Organizers are gearing up for this year’s Warners’ Warm Up Coat Drive in Franklin County.
The coat drive, now in its fourth year here, will be held from Nov. 1-14.
“There will be drop-off locations throughout the Franklin County area and we gladly accept new and gently used winter coats of all shapes and sizes,” said Keith Whittemore, who spearsheads the annual drive with his wife Linda.
Children’s coats are especially needed, Whittemore said.
The coat drive is part of former St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner and his wife Brenda’s First Things First Foundation. The couple have been collecting coats in the greater St. Louis area for 13 years.
“Brenda Warner started this mission work when she saw children waiting outside on the street in the winter with no coats in 2001,” Whittemore said. “It has been a part of the Warners’ First Things First mission work ever since.”
Operation Food Search, St. Louis’s largest free food and personal care nonprofit distribution center, distributes the coats collected to their network of schools, shelters and social service centers in the greater St. Louis area.
In Franklin County, the coats will be distributed to residents by the following agencies:
Agape House of St. Clair, Loving Hearts Outreach, Washington, Meramec Mission in Sullivan, Agape House of Pacific, the Washington Emergency Relief Fund and Pregnancy Assistance Center.
Whittemore said many of the previous year sponsors are returning, but more organizations, schools, churches and businesses are being sought to participate.
Anyone interested in starting up a coat drive at their school, church or business, should contact Whittemore at 314-629-8448; email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.kurtwarner.org/hostingadrive.html for more information.
“We also are looking for individuals willing to help with collecting and sorting the coats,” he said.
Last year, residents donated approximately 1,500 coats, and Whittemore hopes to top that number.
“We know the generosity of the people of Franklin County and we know they will make this year the best year yet,” he said.
“There are far too many of our neighbors and friends who need assistance in one form or another during the year,” he added. “We’re asking that residents look into their closets and find a few coats that are in good shape and drop them off at one of the collection sites.”
Coat drive sponsors, to date, are The Missourian, KLPW, Applebee’s and The Creek Grill & Sports Bar, Washington, Johnny’s Restaurant, Union, Elks Lodge 1559, Schnucks, Presbyterian Church of Washington, Zion UCC Union, Bethany UCC, St. John UCC, Kids Ahoy Learn & Care Center, and RE/MAX Gold First.
All of theses businesses also will serve as collection sites.
First Things First corporate sponsors include the Washington, Union and Sullivan Walgreens and Look After Hair Company, which will be collection sites as well.
Several Washington businesses also plan to hold internal coat drives with their employees.
Schools participating in the drive and serving as collection sites include:
South Point Elementary, Washington West Elementary, Campbellton Elementary, Fifth Street Elementary and Clearview Elementary, all in the Washington School District; and St. Francis Borgia Grade School and St. Francis Borgia Regional High School.