Thanks to the care and generosity of the Clear Lake community, the Engage! Winter Outerwear Drive was a huge success. During the month of November donation boxes filled to overflowing with coats, gloves, hats, scarves, boots and snowpants. Then on the Saturday morning of Christmas by the Lake it was all offered to our neighbors in need.
“It was just in time!” noted Colleen Thompson, organizer of the event. “That afternoon Clear Lake got it’s first snowfall of the season. It was spectacular! And our neighbors were warm.”
The outerwear drive began four years ago when it became evident that people in our community were quietly struggling, explained Thompson. “With limited funds parents were finding it difficult to prepare their children for the cold Iowa winters. Our adult neighbors were struggling, as well. The community engaged together to help.”
This year, well over 1,270 articles of warm winter outerwear were given away. That included 459 coats, 295 pair of gloves/mittens, 278 hats, 141 scarves, 46 ear muffs, 28 headbands and 23 pair of boots.
The Engage! team has grown over the years to include people who help with picking up, laundering and organizing outerwear, decorating the donation boxes, shopping the Black Friday sales, helping the day of the distribution, baking muffins to share, even making hot chocolate to serve to those waiting in line for the doors to open.
This year the line began to form outside the distribution site at 8:30 a.m.; the doors opened at 10.
“There were so many people we couldn’t let them all in at one time - it took us 50 minutes to get the last person in the door,” said Thompson.
Kaari Krietlow was among those who helped for the first time this year.
“I talked with one mom who asked me if she could leave her daughter’s coat,” she recalls. “I asked her why. She said she had found a different one for her daughter and wanted to share.”
That was the story of the day. The people who came gratefully received what the community offered. Many want to give back and plan to do just that next year, said Thompson. “And then there are the amazing neighbors who drop beautiful new and gently used items in the boxes or donate money. This is truly a community event.”
“I’m glad I got to be a part of it,” Kreitlow said. “I didn’t think there would be so many people. I didn’t think there would be so little left. I can’t wait to help again - Read More Via e-Edition