A local organization is working to keep Missourians warm this winter

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COLUMBIA – A nonprofit was collecting winter wear today for homeless people, families and kids who cannot afford to buy clothes to stay warm this winter.

Pay It Forward Free Store hosted the Wrap Up Missouri event.

People who do not have a winter coat, hat or scarf could stop by to pick up what they needed.

Community members donated their extra warm clothing to help other Missourians.

Cathy Eatherton, a Columbia resident, and her family donated their own clothes and reached out to their neighbors for contributions.

“I can’t imagine my kids having to go to school or having to go outside without a coat or gloves and so its really important to me if I can help some other families have proper gear for their kids, give that opportunity,” Eatherton said.

Pay It Forward is a nonprofit organization that works to improve the lives of disadvantaged families and homeless people.

This is the third year of the event, and the founder of Pay It Forward Free Store, Sylvia Sprinkle, said it gets bigger and better every year due to groups, individuals and families working together.

"I think last year we collected over 11,000 hats coats and gloves and scarves,” Sprinkle said. “It was amazing. Organizations, people, I didn’t even know new about us stopped by. They said our youth group has been making scarves for the last six months. I didn’t know that but for them just to drop off I think I was about in tears.”

The goal of the event was to collect at least 20,000 items, almost doubling what was donated last year.

Sprinkle started Missouri Pay It Forward in Columbia in 2014 to help a homeless friend during the holidays, and the organization has grown to 38 sites around Missouri.

The group hopes to give people in need the necessary resources to promote success and, ultimately, empower people to help others in need.

The nonprofit aims to bring the community together to help others through its drop off locations and online groups.

Another person who made donations today, Jo Turner, said she appreciates what the group is doing to help others in the community.

“It’s my first time to hear about the Pay It Forward Free Store. I found out about it on social media, Facebook, and I thought ‘what a great idea,’” Turner said. “And especially in the middle of winter like this when we know there are people out there without hats and coats and gloves I looked in the closet and said to my husband, you know ‘are you wearing this,’ ‘are we wearing this’ and we thought we’d bring it over.”

People can request a donation through email to Missouri Pay It Forward at MOPayItForward@gmail.com.

Pay It Forward accepts any new or gently used items including clothing, house items, furniture, hygiene products and appliances.

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