Last updated: December 19. 2013 2:20PM - 668 Views
Lauren Williams Staff Writer

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The Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce wrapped up its fourth annual Chamber Coat Closet at the end of November, concluding it’s most successful year with the project thus far, organizers said.

“We collected over 1,500 coats this year,” shared Janna Bass, executive director of the Chamber. “We’re so thrilled with the number of coats that were so generously given.”

This year’s collection exceeded the challenge that Sampson County Commissioner Jefferson Strickland presented to the Chamber — to collect and distribute 1,350 coats.

Although the most successful Chamber Coat Closet since the project’s start, this year’s goal-surpassing number is just another in the project’s impressive history. Last year, a total of 1,336 coats were collected and distributed, surpassing the Chamber’s then goal of 1,200 coats.

According to Bass, Chamber members were anticipating another successful year, particularly when the project surpassed an early goal — collecting at least 100 coats on Nov. 1, the kickoff day of the project. Last year, 85 coats were collected on kickoff day.

While many of the new and gently-used coats have already been given out to those in need, with help from the local Partnership for Children, Clinton City Schools, and Sampson County Schools, distribution is still ongoing, noted Bass. “We’re still in the process. We hope to be done by Friday.”

Keeping individuals and families bundled up and warm this winter wouldn’t be possible without the community’s support, stressed Bass, praising the many community partners who participated in this Chamber Coat Closet.

“A big thanks to the number of community partners that stepped up to the plate and really got involved this year,” she said. “People have really been getting creative (with ways to collect coats) and we appreciate that so much.”

One of those creative collection ideas came from the Clinton Kiwanis Club which offered a $100 prize — for a pizza party or a trip to sweetFrog — to the area high school Key Club that collected and donated the most coats to the Chamber. Sampson Early College High School’s Key Club was named the winner of the competition, collecting 81 coats for the project.

Calling the competition a “great idea,” Bass shared that at total of 180 coats were collected solely through the Key Clubs’ participation.

Another one of the creative collection ideas came from local dance teacher Wanda Coleman, owner of The Dance Shoppe and TuTu’s Too, who challenged her students to donate as many coats as they could and offered incentives such as complimentary dance recital tickets, a month’s paid tuition, and free t-shirts and sweatshirts.

Bass shared that the dancers and their families answered the call with enthusiasm, collecting 123 coats.

“We thank everyone for their continued support because there is such a need for this in the community,” said Bass. “We’re already looking forward to next year.”

Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at lwilliams@civitasmedia.com.

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