On the first day of winter, more Americans are facing the prospect of surviving the dangerous cold weather without a warm winter coat.
Because of the economic crisis created by COVID-19, the national nonprofit One Warm Coat experienced a 50 percent decrease in the number of coat drives this fall. As a result, it is facing a shortage of warm winter coats at a time when an estimated 30 million Americans are unemployed and more than 1 in 8 American households are living in poverty.
One Warm Coat, which distributed more than 500,000 free coats to children and adults in need in 2019, relies on volunteer-led drives to collect coats, which it then distributes through partnerships with local nonprofits.
Workplaces and schools are often major contributors — but because of COVID-19, many companies and schools have been unable to host drives this year.
Making matters worse, COVID-19 has also increased the need, as more Americans are experiencing economic hardship. Amodio said demand in most communities is up 30-50 percent compared with last year at this time.
“A coat may seem like a simple thing, but thousands of children and adults in communities across the country will need a warm, winter coat for the cold months ahead.” Amodio said. “Shelter from the elements is a basic need, and One Warm Coat is working to collect and distribute coats across the U.S. to ensure that we can protect the health and well-being of as many people as possible.”
In every corner of our country, families are at severe risk – and the need for warmer clothing, combined with increased utility costs, will make the winter months more challenging for those who were already struggling before the pandemic began.
Children are particularly susceptible to the cold because their small bodies must work harder to maintain a safe core temperature. With many students now remaining home due to COVID-19, coats are more essential than ever. Children from low-income families often wear their coats inside their residences, where they may not have working utilities or proper insulation.
For adults, a coat can provide warmth as they commute to work, often by foot or on public transportation. For men and women living on the street, a warm coat can mean the difference between life and death.
Individuals, community groups, and businesses can still support One Warm Coat’s efforts through its Coat Drive Program.
Hosting a coat drive is simple. One Warm Coat provides all of the resources necessary to register, promote, and manage your drive and partners with nonprofits in each community to ensure every coat that’s collected is delivered to someone in need. One Warm Coat is providing social distancing and safety tips to ensure everyone involved in the Coat Drive Program is safe.
One Warm Coat is also encouraging cash donations. Every $1 donated warms 1 person. To learn more, visit: https://www.onewarmcoat.org.