Help those in need stay warm this winter. Organize a gently used coat drive in your community.
Many people lack enough warm clothing to stay protected throughout winter, and lack the money to buy that clothing. One Warm Coat (www.onewarmcoat.org/) helps volunteers organize coat drives to collect gently used coats. Organizers customize each coat drive to meet their own local needs.
This is a project that anyone can lead. It’s particularly well suited for:
- Grandparents looking for activities to do with their grandchildren
- People looking to add a philanthropic component to an upcoming family gathering or party
- Community members looking to give back during the winter months
- People who would like a reason to get together with neighbors
- Professionals who would like to engage their colleagues in a good cause
- People who may be moving or looking for ways to recycle
How it Works
STEP 1: SELECT THE DATES OF YOUR COAT DRIVE
There is no bad time to help people in need, but coat drives are traditionally timed for fall or early winter. The holiday season – from Thanksgiving through New Year’s day – is a traditional time to collect items for people in need. January is OK as well: People often find they have too much stuff in their houses after the holidays and could be more inclined to donate a coat. You could try a spring or summer date, but bear in mind that the receiving agency may not be able to store the coats over the summer.
Allow ample time for the drive so people who forget their coats can participate. Many drives are one to two weeks in length. You may want to leave one drop-off box at the location for about a week following the drive so that people who were out of town can donate.
Consult One Warm Coat’s guidebook (in the Supplemental Materials section below) for more detailed information on how to plan and execute a successful coat drive.
STEP 2: PICK THE AGENCY TO RECEIVE THE COATS
The coats must be given to the agency for free, and must then be distributed to people in need for free.
Agencies/people to consider include:
- Homeless shelters
- Halfway homes
- Youth shelters
- Women’s and children’s shelters.
One Warm Coat maintains a searchable database (www.onewarmcoat.org/agencies.php) of more than a thousand agencies across the United States that have indicated that they have a need for coats. This is only a partial list; there are thousands of agencies across the country that can accept and distribute coats. You may already have a local organization you support – check with them if they have a need for coats.
STEP 3: PLAN YOUR COAT DRIVE
You can structure the coat drive in any number of ways: For example, you could solicit directly from families and friends, ask local merchants or schools to allow coat drop-offs, or arrange for a drop-off at your work place.
A school collection: You can create flyers to go home to parents, posters for the school and make presentations in class. One Warm Coat has a selection of flyer templates you can use (www.onewarmcoat.org/flyers.php).Then collect coats on a designated day or have a collection box in the office.
A community collection: At a community-sponsored event, your group could host a coat drop-off booth. It could be promoted via local newspapers, radio, email lists, etc.
A work place coat drive: This is an easy and convenient way for employees to connect with their community, knowing that men, women and children in need will receive a warm coat.
Many publications need a month or more advance notice to promote your event. Plan accordingly.
STEP 4: PUBLICIZE YOUR COAT DRIVE
Publicize your coat drive as widely as possible, using local publications (print and online), radio, flyers posted in your community and email lists or electronic bulletin boards. Don’t worry that you might get too big a response: that is rarely a problem with any charity-related event.
Here’s some suggested language to communicate the purpose and scope of One Warm Coat when you want to promote your coat drive:
“Hello! I’d like to tell you about a community project in which our organization will collect clean, reusable coats and jackets to be distributed free to children and adults in our community. We are asking for your support of the One Warm Coat project.”
One Warm Coat has large banners available to identify the drop-off sites. The organization also provides publicity tools (www.onewarmcoat.org/tools.php) to help you get the word out.
STEP 5: TELL ONE WARM COAT ABOUT YOUR COLLECTION PLANS
Complete the Share Your Plans (http://onewarmcoat.org/organize-a-drive/tools-resources/) form. One Warm Coat will send you a banner, box labels stickers and more to help plan and run your coat drive.
If you are using a school, community center or other location as an un-manned drop-off, let the administrators know when you will pick up the coats.
STEP 6: HOLD YOUR COAT DRIVE!
Leave extra time to get to the drive location, and make sure you have cell phone numbers of any volunteers helping with the drive. Consider providing refreshments and snacks for your volunteers. Make sure – in advance – that everyone has clear directions on how to find the coat drive location and that parking/transportation instructions are clear.
Be sure to smile at and thank people who drop off coats and ask your volunteers to do the same.
STEP 7: ARRANGE FOR DELIVERY OF THE COATS TO YOUR AGENCY
Contact the agency before collecting coats to learn any specific requirements they may have and to arrange a drop-off time. The agency may be willing to pick the coats up from you, which will significantly reduce the hours involved in this service project.
Consider using the agency’s name (with their permission) when promoting your coat drive.
After your drive, drop off your coats as arranged. Be sure to keep an accurate count of the coats you collected so you can tell us about your project.
STEP 8: TELL ONE WARM COAT ABOUT YOUR COLLECTION EFFORTS
About one week after your coat drive, One Warm Coat will email you asking you to complete the Share Your Success (http://www.onewarmcoat.org/success.php) form.
When you enter your Coat Drive Number, all of your contact information is automatically filled in. The form gives you a chance to share stories about your coat drive. What worked well? What other resources would you like? How can the process be improved?
STEP 9: INSPIRE OTHERS ON CREATETHEGOOD.ORG
KEEP UP THE GOOD!
Visit www.CreateTheGood.org for a range of opportunities to use your life experience, skills and passion to benefit your community.