NEWBERRY COUNTY — With the temperatures dropping outside, many are grabbing their coats before they leave their homes, but there are some residents in Newberry County who do not have a coat for the cold winter months.
To help provide the less fortunate with a coat this winter, the Muller Center at Newberry College and the Newberry County Young Professionals are working together on a coat drive. The coat drive began Nov. 18 and will continue until Dec. 9.
Teiara Turner with AmeriCorps VISTA at Newberry College said the idea came about after she hosted Hunger/Homelessness Week.
“I looked at ideas that previous AmeriCorps Vistas had done with Newberry College, and I saw they did a coat drive in the second half of the semester, but I thought about doing a coat drive this semester since December is when the temperatures really start to drop,” Turner said. “It would be more beneficial for folks to go ahead and get coats now, as opposed to waiting until January or February to try and get coats.”
Turner hosted Hunger/Homelessness Week the week prior to Thanksgiving break (Nov. 14-18). She said the original plan was to collect coats for one day, but then realized she could collect more coats after the students returned from break.
“I thought about it, students are going home for break, faculty is going home for break, that gives them the opportunity to get coats or see if family members have resources, so I extended it through Dec. 9. That way people have enough time to bring those materials in,” Turner said.
Jessica Beam with Newberry County Young Professionals said the Young Professionals find it important to work with the community to help create a better tomorrow.
“This year, we learned that there was a need for winter clothing in our community. That is when we decided we would partner with Newberry College to collect those items and donate them locally,” Beam said. “As a community we have to work together and having this coat drive allows all residents of Newberry County to come together for a common cause.”
Newberry County Young Professionals is a branch of the Chamber of Commerce and consists of young professionals within Newberry County who gather to network and participate in philanthropy.
“We thank all community members ahead of time for their donations and contributions to Newberry County,” she said.
One of the key aspects of the Muller Center is civic engagement with students. Turner said they want students to have an understanding of the needs of their community and what is happening in their community.
“So having an event like a coat drive lets them know, hey there are folks that do not have the resources to go out and buy a new coat. By donating a coat that shows you know what is happening in your community, you care about your community and you are willing to help your community,” she said.
Turner said there are no restrictions on what can be donated, other than they need to be gently worn. Coats, jackets, sweaters or any type of outerwear in sizes ranging from youth to adult can be donated.
“We definitely want them to be gently used. We do not want anything falling a part. We want them in good condition so someone can have pride with wearing this during the winter season,” she said. “If someone wants to donate something, and wants to have it as a tax deduction, I can provide them with a receipt.”
Turner has a goal of collecting 20 coats through this coat drive. She said it’s a bit slow right now, but she is hoping the effort will pick up traction this week.
“Everyone can feel the temperature changing, and I hope that will register in folks minds, ‘I am keeping warm, let me keep someone else warm with jackets that I am not using,’” she said.
After the coat drive ends, Turner is going to donate them to the Newberry County School District, which is why she is asking for all sizes because some high school students wear adult sizes.
Drop of locations for the coat drive are the Keller Center at Newberry College, Room 203, and Community Hall, 1209 Caldwell St.
Michelle Long, executive director of the Newberry County Chamber of Commerce, said she is more than happy to host a drop off location for the coat drive.
Turner also plans on reaching out to local businesses to see if they can donate.
“I know it can be tough to part with clothing sometimes, but I hope that the community will find it in their hearts to want to help someone else in their community,” Turner said.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.