Center to hand out thousands of free winter weather clothing items

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COLUMBIA - The Voluntary Action Center gave out thousands of donated clothing items to those in need.

Coats, hats, gloves, scarves and blankets were be available from 8:30 to noon Saturday morning at the Columbia National Guard Armory.

The center collected items over the past month through its Warm Up Columbia initiative. Multiple faith-based groups and businesses participated.

Program coordinator Ashley Jarrett said the goal was to cover a basic need for many who cannot do it on their own.

"It really is just for anybody in the community that has the need and can get down here," Jarrett said.

Nick Foster, executive director of the Voluntary Action Center, said most people who cannot afford the items are unemployed or underemployed - working but not making enough money to pay for everything they need.

"There are some people who are making it, week to week, month to month, but sometimes they run across some of the basic expenses that we all have and they just can’t quite get there," Foster said. 

He said, in some cases, helping people with those expenses means they can meet other obligations they otherwise could not.

The center gave items to more than 1,000 people last year. On Monday, the center will offer any leftover items to various agencies, including Rainbow House, Presbyterian Children's Home, Lutheran Family Services and Great Circle.

Jarrett said the community's support was essential.

“I’m just constantly blown away by the support that the community provides," Jarrett said. "Constantly just impressed by the outpouring of support.”