Coat donations pile up at one of LINK’s previous coat drives. In 2015 the coat drive provided 2,900 used winter coats, gloves and mittens to 400 families.
Photo by Fallon Forbush.
Herndon Those in need in the communities of Herndon, Sterling and Ashburn will not go without a coat if Amy Thomas has anything to do with it.
“I have no pride,” she says. “I’ll beg from anyone.”
As coat drive coordinator for LINK, Inc., a nonprofit that provides emergency food and financial assistance to people in need, Thomas is leading the organization’s sixth annual Thanksgiving coat drive.
Every year, LINK’s Holiday Program aims to provide all of its needy families with a week’s worth of non-perishable food and a winter coat in November and a week’s worth of non-perishable food and a toy for each child in December.
LINK is now collecting new and gently used winter coats. They will be distributed to those in need on Nov. 19 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Trinity Presbyterian Church at 651 Dranesville Road in Herndon, and the Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church at 46833 Harry Byrd Highway in Sterling.
Those wishing to donate can deliver coats to the Sterling United Methodist Church at 304 E. Church Road from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. until Friday, Nov. 18.
“When my kids started elementary school, I started noticing,” Thomas says. “It broke my heart to see kids who couldn’t help themselves, and had no winter clothing.”
Last year, the coat drive provided 2,900 used winter coats, gloves and mittens to 400 families.
Anyone within the LINK service area of Herndon, Sterling and Ashburn are eligible to call and request an appointment.
“We make every effort to get a coat to everyone who needs one,” Thomas says. “We also take walk-ins after 1 p.m. on the day of the drive.”
It brightens her day and makes her feel good to see kids come in and pick out their own coat and gloves, she says.
“There weren’t as many hats and gloves when we started,” she says.
She recalls having to limit gloves. “Parents would have the impossible task of picking which kids went without,” she says. “Now I can give out gloves with all of our coats.”
Thomas isn’t sure how many families will show up this year, but her personal goal is to reach out to as many places she can to spread the word.
Thomas contacts local schools each year to ask for help collecting coats and winter apparel, including Herndon High School. Often, she says, the schools will come back to her and tell her that they may have students in need.
“It’s always worked out where we have enough,” she says.
She recalls one year when they were almost out of kids coats. “A lady from the Rainbow Station at Haymarket daycare center [in Gainesville] showed up last minute with more donations,” she says.
“Maybe one school brought one box, but it leads to bigger results,” she says. “If everyone does a little, it makes a huge difference.”