Voluntary Action Center Collects Winter Wear

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COLUMBIA - The Volunteer Action Center (VAC) in Columbia is collecting coats for its annual "Warm Up Columbia" event. Every year, VAC partners with local churches and businesses in Columbia to gather winter clothing items for the homeless and low-income families.

This year, the center is working closely with Columbia's D&H Drug Store to fund the coat drive. Project Director Ron Schmidt said partnering with local organizations allows the center to spend more money on other projects that help the community.

Schmidt said the event costs $1,000 without help from local businesses. That includes the cost of storing all of the donated items, purchasing items if donations are low and hosting the event. The center's storage unit is filled with coats, blankets, hats and other winter items. Schmidt said he expects the storage unit to be completely full by next week.

Although the coat drive is for both low-income families and the homeless, Schmidt said the center really tries to meet the needs of the homeless first.

"It's the homeless population that really needs these things because it's getting cold at night, and programs like this will help save lives," Schmidt said.

The annual coat drive event is Saturday, Oct. 20 at 8 a.m. at the Armory in Columbia. Schmidt said hundreds of people line up every year to collect items, so it's best to show up early. Donations can be dropped of at the Volunteer Action Center or any Commerce Bank through Thursday, Oct. 18.