MARIETTA - Overnight temperatures dipped into the 20s this week-an early sign of the frigid winter days that lie just ahead for the local area. When the cold weather arrives, everyone, especially children, needs a warm coat.
That's where the annual Coats for Kids program comes in.
"With the current financial situation for many families, this could be a big year for the program," said Lisa Valentine, director of RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) at the O'Neill Center in Marietta.
Missy Martin, staffing specialist with Mancan Inc., is shown with a barrel full of coats that had been donated to the local Coats for Kids program by Monday afternoon. (Photo by Sam Shawver)
"We gave away 594 coats last year but this year could be a repeat of 2008 when we handed out a record 782 coats," she said.
Since 2007, Coats for Kids has collected more than 2,800 new or gently-used coats that are given away to area children and families in need. There are no guidelines to qualify for the program.
This year, as in the past, families can come to the lobby of Promanco's Dime Bank Building at the corner of Putnam and Second streets to pick out a coat from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays between Nov. 22 and Dec. 12.
"We really appreciate that Promanco has helped us out by providing a warm space to distribute the coats at the Dime Bank for the last few years," Valentine said.
She said coats, gloves, scarves, hats and other winter wear of all sizes are welcome but there's a real need for infants, toddlers and younger children's sizes.
"We always seem to run out of coats for infants and younger children from toddlers to those in kindergarten or first grade," Valentine said.
Coats for Kids is a cooperative effort among several area businesses and agencies, including Peoples Bank, Washington Electric Cooperative, Inc., RSVP, Promanco, Washington-Morgan Community Action, Mancan, Inc., The Marietta Times, Washington State Community College, and Marietta's middle and elementary schools.
Mancan Inc., at 116 Putnam St., is a new sponsor this year.
"We have 19 offices that participate in Coats for Kids programs in several states and this is a local effort for us," said Missy Martin, staffing specialist with Mancan.
"Each year we try to do something for a local charitable cause during the holidays, so we chose Coats for Kids this year," she said. "We've already received 35 coats and we're expecting a lot more."
Martin said Mancan is getting out the word via Facebook as well as telling customers and employees about the program.
Coats may be dropped off at collection barrels and boxes at all seven area Peoples Bank locations in Marietta, Reno and Belpre; Mancan Inc.; The Marietta Times; O'Neill Senior Center; Washington Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Washington State Community College, and Marietta Middle and elementary schools.