Coats for Kids donations up from last year

MARIETTA – As cold temperatures blanketed the area this week, 657 children had new coats to help keep them warm.

The coats were distributed in December by the Coats for Kids campaign.

This year’s number of coats given to children is nearly 200 more than last year’s 462 coats.

“I’d say we did really well,” said Lisa Valentine, director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), which coordinates the program. “Comparing it to previous years, we distributed 657 coats this year, which is higher than usual.”

A record 922 coats were given away in 2008. In recent years, numbers haven’t been as high, but an average of coats distributed in recent years totals 690, which is quite an achievement for Washington County.

Five-year volunteer Mary Emge said the donations, sorting and distribution couldn’t have gone any smoother.

Some coats were donated to the Gospel Mission food pantry and Samaritan House in Caldwell, which serves the Marietta area

“It went like a well-oiled machine, like it usually does,” she said. “The need (for coats) still definitely seems to be in the community.”

Valentine said a lot of credit should be given to Con-Way Freight in Williamstown.

“They brought over a barrel of 30 coats the employees collected,” she said. “It was really nice. We really appreciate that.”

Valentine said Promanco deserved some credit too.

“They let us use (the Dime Bank Building) every year,” she said. “They’re definitely a partner in this project.”

Valentine said success of the program was because the location never changes.

“Part of the success is people know where to get a coat,” she said.

Emge said people who come in are so thankful to be getting coats.

“It’s a paying it forward kind of situation,” Emge said. “It’s just really nice to be able to do something for people in need.”

There were some leftover coats this year for the Coats for Kids drive.

Some of the coats were sent to the Gospel Mission food pantry in Harmar. They have a supply of clothing in addition to the food pantry.

Valentine said she was pleased with the work everyone did to make the coat drive a success.

“It’s a community project,” Valentine said. “Everyone has a role and it’s just great how it comes off every year…It says a lot about the community we live in that they go through their closets every year and give coats away. It’s hard to beat Washington County.”