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Tips for Holding a Coat Drive

Tips for Holding a Coat Drive

Giving the gift of warmth

by Kristen Martin

The past few winters have broken records for cold temperatures, snow, ice, and wind-chill. With the cold weather, we pull out warm sweaters, gloves, hats, scarves, and coats. Since children grow every year, they need new warm clothes every year. For some families, the expense of providing these necessary protective barriers is impossible. It is up to us to help the children in our community. The four steps in our guide will teach you how to start a coat drive the right way. With friends, you can brainstorm new, creative idea that best fit your community.

Select a Beneficiary

From the beginning, you’ll want to communicate with your nonprofit about their needs and what they can accept. If your first choice can’t distribute the coats, be willing to either switch to something they need or ask if there’s another organization they know in need of a coat drive. Plan with your organization to find the best time and way to deliver the clothing. If you want to have donation bins somewhere in the community, get approval before you start.

Alternatively, consider donating to Operation Warm, which provides new coats for children through community organizations. “For each $20 that is donated, a child in the community gets the opportunity to choose a new coat in his or her favorite color and style.” You give warmth as well as self-esteem and acceptance.
One Warm Coat is another organization that can help you plan and hold your coat drive. They have plenty of creative ideas, materials to help promote, and tools to find local beneficiaries.

Promote

For a successful donation drive, your community has to be aware of it. Get the word out with posters and social media. If your bins are going to be in public places, decorate them in attention-grabbing ways aimed at your community. Don’t be afraid to notify your local media and send a press release.

Host the Drive

You’ll want boxes big enough for these bulky coats. You can get boxes from moving companies or stores that sell large products. Make sure your donations collections are where people will be. You can set up donation bins in specific places over a long period of time, or you can have volunteers encourage donations at a specific location on a specific day. If you opt for a single day, it’s especially important that you accept cash or credit donations for those who decide to donate on the spot. You’ll want to have enough volunteers to work in shifts.

If possible, extend your coat drive to a winter clothing drive. According to a recent study, we may be more likely to get the common cold when we’re breathing in cold air, so balaclavas, facemasks, and scarves worn up over the nose could be important in keeping us healthy.

Sort and Count

After the collection is over, you’ll want to count and sort the donations according to the needs of the organization who will receive them. You may encounter coats that are much more than gently used. In these cases, companies like Goodwill can still accept the donation and recycle the fabric if it’s not able to be sold.

Example Coat Drive Ideas

  • Hold a drive at an event like a holiday party, football game, or service project.
  • Host a winter dance that charges monetary donations or winter clothing donations for entrance.
  • Businesses can offer discounts in exchange for a coat donation.
  • Branches or departments of a business can compete for a casual day or force a departmental boss to wear something ridiculous.
  • Hold competing coat drives at rival schools or school districts—winners get a party or a pie to the face of an administrator.
  • Coordinate with the manager at a department store that sells clothing to host the drive right outside.
  • Host a concert and charge admission in clothing donations.
  • Enlist the support of a local radio personality to mention the drive and participate.

Champions for Kids staff preparing to deliver coats.

We really enjoyed our coat drive last year. We’d love to hear how your drive goes! Share your story with us and we may feature it for others to see.