Coat drive collects nearly 600 jackets

The Bitterroot Valley One Warm Coat Drive collected close to 600 coats in 15 days, thanks to generous donations by community members who delivered the new and gently used coats to 11 drop-off locations.

“The 11 businesses that allowed drop-off boxes in their stores were an integral reason the drive was so successful,” said Tracy Walczak, coat drive organizer.

Participating businesses included Darby Distribution, Murdoch’s Ranch & Supply, Lakeland Feed & Supply, Hamilton Super-1, Bitterroot Board of Realtors, Corvallis Drug, Bitterroot Stoves & Billiards, Victor Merc & Deli, Valley Drug & Variety and Gary & Leo’s IGA. The Hamilton Sears provide the large appliance-size donation boxes.

“Coats were donated to area food banks, the Valley Veterans Service Center, S.A.F.E, Bitterroot Youth Home, Emma’s House, people calling in directly asking for coats and to the family in Darby who lost their home in a recent fire,” said Walczak.

“In many instances, new coats with tags still on them were donated, and the quality and diversity of the coats donated was amazing. We were able to give a lot of coats away to people truly in need in our community. None of the coats were taken to a thrift/consignment shop – they all went directly to agencies and nonprofit organizations who gave them directly to people using their services.

“Volunteers Susan Boelman, Renee Huddelson, Julie Hoselton and Paul Walczak stepped in and picked up coats at various locations. Susan and Renee delivered the excess coats to some of the homeless shelters in Missoula and the YWCA.”

Hannah Honey