Gadsden Public Library Children’s Department Director Jill Reeves (left) and GPL employee Paulette Makary demonstrate how to donate items for the coat drive.
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
As the weather turns crisp and summer fades, one local organization recognizes the needs that arise with the new season.
The Children’s Policy Council of Etowah County is promoting its first winter coat drive during the month of October, fostering the spirit of giving to those in need and encouraging others to do the same.
Gadsden Public Library Children’s Department Director and CPC committee chair Jill Reeves recognizes the winter coat drive as an opportunity for residents to make a significant difference in the lives of local children. The coat drive is not limiting donations to coats alone, but also welcomes new or used hats, gloves and scarves for children from birth to 18 years of age.
The winter coat drive is an initiative of the Children’s Policy Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to identifying and assisting with the needs of children and families in Etowah County. As a community resource, the CPC partners with a diverse collections of community organizations, groups and individuals to collaborate on projects and initiatives for the benefit of its residents. The CPC’s mission is “to increase the opportunities available and ultimately improve the lives of Etowah County children and their families.”
Reeves joined the CPC’s Executive Board in August with a desire to spark positive change. Enriched with creative ideas, Reeves is constantly brainstorming how services like the GPL and CPC can impact the community. In addition to the Special Needs/Parental Involvement, Education/Early Care and Economic, the CPC’s Executive Board developed a third committee responsible for organizing community projects – appropriately titled the Community Committee.
Tasked with filling in the gaps between the other committees, Reeves serves as the chair of the Community Committee. From the moment she was asked to participate, Reeves knew she wanted to implement a coat drive as the committee’s first project.
“Working with the public, I am a witness to the many needs of our children,” said Reeves. “Keeping in mind that the weather will soon turn cold, when I was trying to think of an immediate need the CPC could fill for the kids of Etowah County, I instantly thought of winter warm gear. I have seen too many kids not having something warm to wear in the winter for various reasons, and I thought that this was a project CPC could engage in.”
On behalf of the GPL, Reeves collaborated with the CPC to both promote and accept donations for children’s coats. Since the project’s inception, the community feedback has flourished with positivity. The GPL, Pathways Academy and the YMCA of the Coosa Valley are all serving as donation sites for the drive. The YMCA’s Executive Director LeRoy Falcon is waiving all new-member joining fees for anyone who donates a coat.
“The community response has been overwhelming,” said Reeves. “The support of the local schools’ systems has been positive and other nonprofit and public service agencies are spreading the word. I am hoping that this initiative is not only successful, but impactful on kids who have a need.”
Drop-boxes are available for all donated items, which will be laundered prior to distribution. Reeves noted that the CPC is partnering with social workers within local schools to identify needs, and then distribute the donations directly. The CPC recognizes the importance of maintaining caution concerning COVID-19, and this method was designed to limit the contact items have with individuals from donation to cleaning to distribution.
“COVID-19 has impacted our community with a severity,” said Reeves. “Kids already were not dressed properly for the cold. This year, this could be true for even more children. With the flu and cold season coming up, it is important that they are dressed properly for the elements for their health and safety.”
The drive will accept donations from October 1 through 31 and begin distributing donations in November. Direct requests from community members in need may be sent to Jill Reeves at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who wish to donate a gently used or new winter clothing item may visit one of three drop-off locations: Pathways Academy at 1766 Highway 77 in Southside (Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), the Gadsden Public Library at 254 South College Street in Gadsden (Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) and the YMCA of Coosa Valley at 100 Walnut Street in Gadsden (Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m).
“I am a servant of my community,” said Reeves. “I am overwhelmed with joy that I am in the position to plan, organize and execute projects that are impactful within the community. It is the little things that bring us together.”