Temperatures are still reaching 90 degrees most days, and winter is months away, but members of the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce are already beginning to think about their annual coat drive that helps many kids, and adults, stay warm.
The 9th annual Chamber Coat Drive will begin a month earlier than normal with hopes of getting coats in the hands of those who need it much sooner. This year’s donation period will begin Sept. 28 and end Oct. 31. Over the last eight years, since the implementation of the drive, the Chamber has been able to collect and distribute more than 8,000 coats. Last year alone, more than 1,000 coats were collected or purchased through generous donations from individuals and local businesses.
According to Allie Strickland, director of the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce, in an effort to kick start the annual drive, the Board of Directors is seeking sponsors for the annual community service project. Sponsors receive recognition throughout the event on all marketing materials, including social media, radio, newspaper and more. Deadline for sponsorships is Aug. 24.
“We decided to push the date a little earlier so we can get coats in the hands of those in need a little earlier,” Strickland said.
Slated as the largest community service project done by the Clinton-Sampson Chamber, this project includes the collection of new and gently used coats in all sizes, ranging from infants to adults. These coats are then distributed to needy individuals. The Chamber is assisted in its distribution by the Sampson County Partnership for Children, Sampson County Department of Social Services and both Clinton City and Sampson County schools.
In addition to the partnerships the Chamber has with area organizations, there are several local businesses which help purchase coats by offering incentives to those who donate. Sponsorships and donations are used to purchase coats to ensure all requests are fulfilled.
After the Oct. 31 deadline for donations, Chamber member Cintas picks up the coats and cleans them before organizing by size. Cintas then transports the freshly laundered coats to a warehouse provided by Star Communications, where the Chamber staff can begin fulfilling requests.
Once collections begin, the community is asked to drop off new or gently used coats for both children and adults at one of the 30 collections sites across the county. Exact collection sites will be released at a later date, prior to the collection period beginning.
During the Chamber’s first coat drive in 2009, Strickland said there were 1,000 coats collected. Since that time, the number has more than doubled. Regardless of the final numbers, the Chamber director says the coat drive is greatly needed and beneficial to many people.
“Let’s work hard to return those coats back into the hands of those members of the community that need the gift of warmth,” Strickland added.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.