Local business helping to collect coats for charity organizations

NILES — Unused coats cannot do much good resting on a hanger in the closet.

That’s why this winter season, a Niles business is encouraging people to clean out their wardrobes and donate their gently used coats to help others.

Halbritter Wickens Funeral Services is kicking off its Coats of Caring program. The Niles business will collect coats year-round and donate the clothing to charity organizations for distribution. Those organizations include the Ferry Street Resource Center, Niles Salvation Army and women’s clothing ministry Evy’s Closet.

Sabrina Wickens, the co-owner of Halbritter Wickens Funeral Services, said the program’s goal is to help a number of residents in need.

“We are expecting to serve men, women, children, and infants this winter, and we need the support of our local community so that we can provide warm coats to these folks” Wickens said.

Through a partnership with O’Keefe Cleaning, donated coats will be cleaned as needed. The Coats of Caring program was inspired by a community need, Wickens said. She spoke with officials at Ferry Street Resource Center, who expressed concern that a number of the clients they help do not have a winter jacket.

“That’s where we felt we could help fill that gap and do this for the community,” Wickens said.

At Evy’s Closet, founder Brenda Engel said community members who have visited the clothing ministry have also expressed a need for coats.

“The weather turned cold suddenly. All of a sudden, the ladies are coming in to check out the coats we have and, I’m thinking ‘oh, my gosh. We don’t have very many,’” Engel said.

Evy’s Closet is also seeking to collect hats, mittens, scarves and socks to offer at the clothing ministry. As far as coats, Engel said the women’s ministry is in particular need of large-sized coats.

With snow falling steadily over the past couple of days and more cold weather in the forecast, Engel said donations will be crucial.

“They are really needed,” Engel said. “We have a number of people that are homeless. They come in and are looking for warm clothing. We have had more and more of them come in.”

Coats can be dropped off directly at Evy’s Closet, located inside Wesley United Methodist Church, 302 Cedar St. Evy’s Closet is typically open 4 to 6 p.m. Thursdays, but donations can also be dropped off during church hours. Coats can also be dropped off at Halbritter Wickens Funeral Services, 615 E. Main St.

Wickens encouraged people to support the effort.   

“We will collect coats all year long and store them until they are needed, but we could sure use a big push to start the program rolling,” Wickens said. “We are very excited to be collaborating with so many groups on this project.  I don’t want to see anyone have to be cold without a coat this winter.”

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