On the coziness scale, wrapping yourself up in a nice wool coat ranks right up there with a hot toddy and a Golden Girls marathon. I bought my first good black pea coat before a trip to Philadelphia and New York, where my husband and I found ourselves caught in Snowmageddon 2010. Needless to say, I was extremely grateful for my coat's substantial lining and generous hood.
Experiences like an east coast blizzard also remind me of how difficult winter can be for those who don’t have a warm coat to shield them from the elements. Which is where organizations like One Warm Coat come in.
One Warm Coat is a volunteer organization that grew from a Thanksgiving weekend coat drive in San Francisco in 1992. Now a nationwide initiative, One Warm Coat provides tools, resources, and publicity support to volunteer groups across North America. Their goal is simple: collect coats to give to those in need, free of charge.
Providing a coat may seem like a small gesture when necessities like food, shelter, and vaccines are also sorely needed, but the facts that OWC provides on its website are compelling:
1 in 5 children live in households whose earnings fall below the poverty level in the U.S.
An estimated 671,850 Americans experience homelessness on any given night.
Even a 2-degree drop in body temperature results in reduced heart rate, loss of coordination, and confusion. Adults cannot work effectively and children find it difficult to learn. For the nearly 15% of Americans living in poverty, a warm winter coat is a budget “extra.”
(U.S. Census data September 2011 and Hypothermia, University of Maryland Medical Center)
The bottom line is that a good, warm coat isn’t cheap. I’m a huge advocate of spending a little more on well-made clothing that will last for years, but for many people that simply isn’t an option.
How you can help
Clean out your closet and donate a coat or two
Organize a coat drive within your company, school, or home town
Urge your company or organization to sponsor One Warm Coat
Get creative and find your own way to contribute to the One Warm Coat program, like Red Heart Yarn did
In the market for a new coat?
After donating your gently used coat, consider investing in one of the ethically sourced creations pictured above:
5. Seeger Short Coat, Lauren Moffit – Made in the USA