RICHMOND, Va. -- Preparing for colder temperatures can be a challenge for anyone who works outside. But inside, at Puritan Cleaners, employees like Barbara Dickson spend the days leading up to winter sorting through piles of clothes.
"It's a change of seasons, so people are bringing in winter clothes to get ready," Barbara said. "Very busy. This is our busy season right now."
But some customers don’t expect or even want their items back.
For good reason.
Each autumn when the temperature drops, excitement builds for Barbara and her co-workers at Puritan Cleaners.
Puritan Cleaners launched Coats for Kids 30 years ago.
Since then generations of customers have donated gently-used coats from their closets. The program has grown with each passing winter.
The first year 60 coats were collected.
"We did 17,000," Barbara said. "A lot of love. We have a lot of volunteers who stay late at night and work on these coats till the program is over."
Coats for Kids runs from November 1 through November 30. The coats will be distributed to families who registered through the Salvation Army.
Long-time Puritan Cleaners employee Steve Maurice said he and his colleagues work tirelessly to prepare the coats for those less fortunate.
"We get a lot of coats. I mean a lot," Steve said. "It’s a good cause. Everyone gets into it. Any reward requires work. You don't get reward without working. A big impact. Cold don’t discriminate. Cold don’t care. If you’re old, young small big cold doesn’t care."
Marcella Donado said knowing children will be protected from the harsh winters warmed her heart.
"I love it. Working with Coats for Kids every year," Marcella said. "Busy, busy every year! There are a lot of Coats for Kids downstairs and here."
Puritan Cleaners' employees urge you to donate.
Employees like Barbara Dickson will be glad to take any unwanted coat off your hands and put it into the arms of a child who needs it.
"Bring them in. We’ll take care of them. That is all they have to do is drop them off. We’ll clean them and get them ready," Barbara said. "There are generous people and we see it every year. It is so heartwarming to see it."
Keeping kids warm, at Puritan Cleaners, it's a common thread.
"Every year it's more and more. And more rewarding. And like I said giving back to the community is what it's all about," Barbara said.
If you would like to donate your coats they can be dropped off at any of Puritan Cleaners 13 locations across metro-Richmond.
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