Winter will be a little warmer for many in the community thanks to a countywide coat collection that brought in 1,502 coats for children and adults.
The coats were sorted by volunteers this past Saturday at the Washington Presbyterian Church.
Area agencies will begin distributing coats to those in need this week, according to Keith Whittemore, local organizer of Warners’ Warm-Up, which kicked off Nov. 1 and ran through last Wednesday.
“I couldn’t be happier with the results,” Whittemore told The Missourian. “We didn’t reach our goal of 2,000, but we came close and the amount of coats we did bring in was awesome.”
Last year, approximately 1,200 coats were collected.
Area businesses and schools served as collection sites for the drive, now in its third year in Franklin County.
Whittemore said winter coats of every size, shape and color were needed and donated.
“We got all types and have a very good selection of kids coats, which is wonderful because that’s always the greatest need,” he said.
Whittemore thanked all the businesses and schools that served as collection and everyone who donated a coat, as well as all of the volunteers who helped sort.
“We would like to offer special thanks to the students from St. Francis Borgia Regional High School who came out to help,” he said.
“The support we received from the local businesses, schools and churches that held coat drives cannot be understated,” he added.
“Each of these organizations stepped up to show their commitment to helping their fellow citizens of Franklin County,” he said. “Because of their support and generosity, there will be coats for families to give their children who would have otherwise been ill-prepared for the upcoming winter season.”
Whittemore also recognized the Warners’ First Things First Foundation, which sponsors Warners’ Warm-Up. The foundation was started by retired two-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl Rams quarterback Kurt Warner and his wife Brenda.
“Brenda and Kurt have made it their mission to demonstrate what it means to be a Christian and what it means to act on those beliefs,” he said.
“Through their support and the generosity of the people of Franklin County, all of us are able to make a small difference in the lives of our neighbors, friends and families in need this holiday season,” he added. “We hope that everyone involved in the coat drive this year will take a moment on Thanksgiving to realize how blessed we are to live in a community that doesn’t just talk about helping others, but actually takes action to demonstrate their Christian beliefs by reaching out and making a difference in someone’s life.”
Whittemore also singled out the Presbyterian Church for allowing the group to store and sort coats.
“We also would like to say a special thank you to Paula Obermark of the United Way,” he added. “Through Paula’s efforts we were able to build our list of agencies that will be distributing the coats throughout the Franklin County area. Paula also came out Saturday to help us sort coats.”
Agencies distributing the coats include Loving Hearts and Pregnancy Assistance Center, both in Washington, MO Emergency Relief Fund, Agape House of Pacific, Agape House of St. Clair, Trinity SDA, Franklin County Children’s Division, Union Food Pantry and Meramec Mission in Sullivan.