With forecasters already predicting an exceptionally cold and snowy winter, area residents have begun foraging through their closets and rummaging through their basements in search of warm coats for some of the area's neediest residents. For the second year in a row, Reston Interfaith has teamed up with Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) to help address a serious and potentially deadly problem.
In an attempt to make sure that nobody in the area will go cold this winter, the second annual 'Winter Coat Closet' coat drive, which began on Nov. 17, will benefit the community's disadvantaged children, adults and seniors. "This is a wonderful follow up to our successful drive last year," said Hudgins. "The community stepped up so much last year and donted so many coats that we were almost forced to do it again."
Kerrie Wilson, the executive director of Reston Interfaith, said that many of the coats will go to clients of the Embry Rucker Community Shelter. But Wilson added that the drive is open to any and all residents in need. "It's a tough time out there for a lot of people," Wilson said. "It's beginning to get cold out there and I want people to know that the community is there for them."
ON FRIDAY, Marti Schweitzer volunteered her time to pitch in and help sort and distribute the donated coats. Schweitzer said that last year's coat drive was so successful that there were a few coats left over to help kick-off this year's drive. Volunteers have also collected sweaters, sweatshirts, hats, gloves and boots. Last year, organizers distributed more than 400 coats, Schweitzer said.
"I am really anticipating a lot of community support, because that is just the kind of caring community we have. We know we can always count on Reston," Schweitzer said. "Many of the local churches have already come through with donations. And if anyone is looking to help out, we are always looking for volunteers."
Several people have already come through looking at the coats, Schweitzer said. "It feels good," she said. "And everyone is just so grateful that this option is open."
Donations continue to be accepted and can be made during business hours at the Hunter Mill District Office, the North County Governmental Center and the Embry Rucker Shelter.
The Winter Coat Closet has received hundreds of donations so far this fall in the community room of the North County Governmental Center (12000 Bowman Towne Dr., Reston). Distribution will continue through the end of February on Mondays between 10 a.m. and 12 noon; Thursdays, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Faye Yu, the Embry Rucker shelter volunteer coordinator, encourages anyone who needs a coat to come and get one. "They can come get a coat for themselves and their children," Yu said. "No questions asked."