THUNDER BAY – With temperatures already dropping well below zero, everyone is bundling up in heavy hats, scarves, and winter coats. But not everyone has the luxury of warm winter clothing and a group of volunteers is continuing to make sure no one is left out in the cold this season.
On Saturday, volunteers with the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board, the Catholic Women’s League, and Iron Range Bus Lines held the annual Coats for Kids giveaway at Victoriaville Mall.
Solange Cote, a music teacher with the Catholic School Board, said the campaign has been running for past 12 years and was started by the Ontario Catholic Teacher’s Association.
“I wanted to work with the marginalized and I wanted the teachers to be able to be able to work with the public and help others,” Cote said. “It’s a huge project because it involves students in the community, not just the teachers. And the whole community comes in and brings their jackets.”
Jackets and other winter clothing items were collected at various Catholic Schools throughout the city for three weeks. According to Cote, the number of items brought in varies from year to year.
“Last year we collected more than 1,500 and I think we are at about 1,000 this year,” she said.
“It doesn’t really matter to us how many we collect because we know whatever we have we will give away.”
There were already long lineups Saturday morning of people looking for a warm jacket, with volunteers helping find the right style and proper fit. Many people who came to the giveaway were looking for children’s clothing.
“It’s always very good,” Cote said. “We have been settled here for about eight years and they know we are coming. They always line up and it’s very busy at the beginning. By the end the campaign, the coats are pretty well all gone.”
The giveaway will be taking place all next week from Monday to Saturday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Coats and other winter clothing items are still being accepted for donation. Anyone interested in donating an item can drop it off at Victoriaville Mall.
“I always like to purge my closet,” Cote said. “There is not a lot of places where people can get free coats. We have sites where you can buy a coat that is inexpensive. But I think it’s important to give to the community without expecting anything in return. My feeling is to just give things away for free without expecting anything.”