Coat drive warms up Garfield County kids |

Coat drive warms up Garfield County kids

It’s amazing what a brightly colored refrigerator box can do for a child in need of a winter coat.Last April, Glenwood Medical Associates collected more than 400 coats during its annual community health fair in a large cardboard box. The box filled up so fast with new and used coats it had to be emptied every hour. The coats were recently distributed to Catholic Charities, Salvation Army and Defiance Thrift Store in Glenwood Springs.”That box and its location was the secret to my success,” said Jeanne Golay, marketing manager for GMA. “I actually took the huge box to my children’s daycare where they painted it in different colors. Then we set up a drive-up, drop-off location for coats on our circular drive during the health fair. In the two years that GMA has been doing this, we have been impressed with the amount of support from the community. Last year we collected 75 coats, and this year, 400.”Along with a collection site at the Glenwood fair, coats were gathered at the New Castle-Silt Community Health Fair at the Riverside Elementary School. After spending a summer in storage, the coats were prepared by Paul and Starla Karr of the Fourth Street Drycleaning and Laundromat in Rifle, who shared the cost with GMA, and delivered to nonprofit organizations to distribute to underprivileged children.”Last April, Jill Ziemann at Catholic Charities gave me a list of the children’s ages, sizes and gender who she knew would probably still be with their program in the fall, so that I could keep those needs in mind when sorting through the coats,” Golay said.”It was very rewarding to be able to select the best and most suitable garments for each child on her list. It is a very rewarding, collaborative effort between GMA and the residents of our valleys to meet the basic warm-weather clothing needs of our low-income residents. Everyone should have a warm coat through the winter, and GMA is pleased to help make that a reality for many.”Ziemann agrees that winter clothing is a much-needed commodity for families in need of assistance in Garfield County.”We’re always very pleased to receive donations of this kind,” she said. “Coats are a necessity, and any time a family can save money through a coat donation is appreciated. Many families today are experiencing the crisis of mounting bills. They have no money left for winter coats for the kids.”Catholic Charities’ mission is “to help people, strengthen families and build communities.” Ziemann, and her husband, Tom, Catholic Charities’ director, help provide emergency financial assistance, family transitional housing, immigration services and immigrant community advocacy throughout Garfield County. The housing program is made possible through a grant from Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.”We have families living in their cars, hotels, or camping in places inhabitable. Our main priority is helping people pay rent because that is a critical factor to being able to make it. We haven’t even tipped the iceberg for people who are truly homeless.”Like any social service nonprofit organization, Catholic Charities must pick its battles. For now, the Ziemanns are happy to respond to families in need with winter coats for the kids.”It’s like Christmastime for the kids,” Tom said. “Everyone likes to get something new. They are thrilled.”

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