Winter clothing donations needed for kids

Published 6:58 am Friday, October 16, 2009

Clean out those closets fast.

United Way officials are urging residents to donate slightly used or new coats and accessories at local drop-off sites after requests are up this year and this week’s early snowfall.

The United Way of Mower County has once again teamed up with First United Methodist Church for the annual Community Outerwear Drive, which kicked off Oct. 5.

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Donations — including warm coats, hats, gloves, snowpants and boots — can be made through Friday at the United Way, Hy-Vee, U.S. Bank, Usem, YMCA, LeRoy Center for Creative Arts and the Oak Park Mall.

They can also be made through Monday at the Oak Park Mall and Hy-Vee until 4 p.m.

“We’re looking for winter coats — something that can go below zero,” said Mandi Lighthizer-Schmidt, United Way executive director. “We have kids who go outside for recess and kids who walk because they live too close for busing.”

Lighthizer-Schmidt said in past years, the goal was to provide every child with a coat, hat, gloves and snowpants, with the hope that the parents could then supplement the boots.

But with 250 requests as of Thursday, roughly 100 more than in 2008, that goal may not be met.

“This year, with the amount of need we’re seeing, we’re going to focus on making sure each one has a coat,” Lighthizer-Schmidt said.

Residents with children from birth through 18 in need of a coat can give their requests to the United Way through Friday.

“Whatever we don’t have in sizes, we supplement with the cash (donations) and then we purchase our coats locally in Austin,” Lighthizer-Schmidt said.

The local United Way office is located at 301 N. Main St.

Cash donations are accepted there as well, and checks should include “coat drive” in the memo line.

Coats and accessories will be distributed at Oak Park Mall Oct. 26 and 27.