Agencies Call for Winter Coats
COLUMBIA - The Salvation Army is working to promote their need for winter coats. Donations bins are located at seven Columbia locations, but few coats are filling them. Childrens coats are especially needed.
Because of the economy, Maj. Kendall Mathews said this year is going to be tougher than usual. The number of people depending on the Salvation Army's services is up--and so is demand.
"All of our indicators have shown us, in our social services department, in our shelter, in our feeding program in our utility and rental assistance, these numbers have spiked up, have spiraled up," Mathews said.
The goal is to collect 1,500 coats. Last years coat drive yielded 1,000 coats and still weren't enough to go around. That, and the economy, is why the coat drive began earlier this year. Preparation is key, and Mathews stressed that this year is going to be extremely tight. This makes it that much more important for the Salvation Army to get their message across.
Inez McQueen moved into the homeless shelter on October 28th, after she couldn't pay for her utility bill. Crack cocaine played a major role in her becoming homeless. This is the second time she has had to worry about whether she'd be warm for the winter. Her first time spent at the shelter was back in 2006. She said all she can do is hope and pray this time is different.
She still feels she has more than others in the shelter - and says she doesn't have a lot. When she first arrived, she gave away three to four of her coats and now is left with a mere sweater and light jacket.
"I know the economy's tough. It's tough on everybody. And I, in my heart, wanted to give because I hated seeing people going out in the cold without a coat," McQueen said.
But coats aren't the only thing in need - gloves, scarves and hats are welcomed with open arms.
Children's coats are the most needed, with kids ages three months to 15 years old living in the shelter.
"There's little kids that need help with coats because I see them walking around in these little sweaters, and these little hoodies, and that's not going to keep them warm in the wintertime," McQueen said. "Even if you have a little, your little bit counts."
Coats can be donated at:
Custom Concord Cleaners locations at 204 E. Nifong Blvd., 2101 W. Broadway and 2716 Paris Road
St. Andrew's Lutheran Church
The Columbia Daily Tribune
Salvation Army office at 1108 W. Ash St.