Lauren Balkcum, executive director of the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce, expressed pure delight over the number of coats that were donated to the group’s signature project.
“We collected 600 of them, and we are really excited about that,” attested Balkcum. In addition, the Chamber director also pointed out that approximately $2,000 was donated to help the organization purchase even more coats for the needy this winter.
“We also plan to buy them locally,” Balkcum explained, emphasizing the Chamber’s ongoing call for residents to Buy Local First.
She also pointed out that a number of different organizations have provided in-kind gifts that have helped to make the Chamber’s Coat Closet a reality. Some of the organizations that helped over the last month include Alcare Uniforms, Cyntas, Sampson County Government, Ideal Cleaners, Mary Mack’s, Piggly Wiggly, Sampson Community College and the Sampson County Partnership for Children.
And, because this year’s project was such a huge sussces, Balkcum said she would like the Chmber to continue it as a signature project each year.
“This worked out really good; we had a good response,” said Balkcum. In addition, she stated that people are continuing to show interest in donating. Right now, she stressed that the Chamber would be happy to accept more coats, but Friday is the absolute last day for donations.
Once all the coats are collected, Balkcum stressed, they will be distributed to the Sampson County Department of Social Services, the Crisis Center and the Partnership for Children, agencies which, in turn, will provide them to those who will benefit most.
With the Chamber’s campagn almost finished, now the work of giving out the coats begins. Rochelle Stuart, the director of the Sampson Crisis Center, also feels excited to know that more children and adults around the county will have coats this winter thanks to the success of the coat project.
“This will make a big difference. People are always popping in asking for a coat, and if it is cold, we can give them one,” said Stuart.
She expressed that a number of individuals, particularly people just getting out of jail or prison, come into the center needing a coat.
She also noted the need of local Head Start children, who were either walking around with coats without zippers or no coat at all.
“Last year, we took five coats to them,” said Stuart. Now, she will have opportunities to give out coats to these children, again.
“The whole thing will help a lot,” said Stuart.
Lynn Fields, adult protective services supervisor for DSS, said her agency has already benefited from the Chamber’s coat campaign.
“We have already handed out 48 coats to our clients,” said Fields.
Currently, she stated that the Department of Social Services has arranged for clients to request coats, and if the closet contains a coat in their size, then they can furnish it to them.