By ELIZABETH MACAULEY
Chronicle Staff Writer
As the winter and holiday seasons approach, giving the gift of warmth will be easier than ever thanks to local organizations.
Through the areawide â€śWarm the Childrenâ€ť initiative, the Knights of Columbus San Jose Council, the Windham Area Interfaith Ministry and the Windham Rotary Club are taking action and working together to bring warmth to members of the community in need.
The Chronicle and WILI radio are media sponsors of â€śWarm the Children.â€ť
A â€śCoats for Kidsâ€ť event will provide coats to youths in need on Saturday, Nov. 25, from 8 to 11 a.m. at 21 Valley St., Willimantic.
In addition, WAIM will be accepting donations and distributing warm clothing throughout the season as well as working with the Rotary Club for a clothing drive that benefits local children.
â€śThe Windham Rotary Club will sponsor 15 children that apply from WAIMâ€™s back-to-school program and 15 children from the Salvation Army and will buy them warm clothing for the season,â€ť said WAIM Assistant Director Evelyn Solla. â€śThey host a pizza party at the country club in Windham and then take them on a $100 shopping spree at Wal-Mart where they buy warm clothing for winter.â€ť
Right now, WAIM has only two racks of winter coats for distribution to the community, Solla said.
â€śWe are always in need of warm clothing, sweaters, coats, gloves and hats,â€ť Solla said. â€śWe need all sizes for adults, toddlers and children.
â€śWe do have some that come in, but not very much,â€ť she said. â€śThe weather has been cooperating this year and right now there doesnâ€™t seem like there is a major need, but we have a low supply and would love to have enough to serve the community throughout the season.â€ť
The need is even greater than usual because of Hurricane Mariaâ€™s impact on Puerto Rico.
â€śDonating this year is especially important as well because of all the families and children coming here from Puerto Rico that will need warm coats and clothing,â€ť Solla said. â€śOur warm clothing is available to families in our distribution store on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and the first Saturday of the month for those working from 9 a.m. to noon.â€ť
According to Solla, donating at WAIM is convenient and easy.
â€śDonations are collected every day from 9 a.m. to noon,â€ť Solla said. â€śThe drop-off area is in the back side of our building on Riverside Drive.â€ť
Monetary donations can be addressed to WAIM, P.O. Box 221, 866 Main St., Willimantic.
Donations at WAIM go a long way in helping various members of the community, Solla said.
â€śThe homeless population living here needs to stay warm as much as low-income families,â€ť she said. â€śBoth cannot go purchase warm clothing and are often limited with paying bills and getting food on the table, therefore making donations so meaningful for them because itâ€™s all free.â€ť
As the holidays approach, donations can help parents give new coats to their children as gifts, said WAIM Executive Director Victoria Nimirowski.
â€śDonating warm clothing really shows people who receive that the community cares for them and that they are not on their own,â€ť Nimirowski said. â€śYou can physically see the release of stress on a clientâ€™s face when their needs are met.â€ť
Also, the gratitude they show is overwhelmingly moving, Nimirowski said.
â€śWe rely on the community year-round, but are extra busy in the winter and holiday season so this is a good time of year to get involved,â€ť she said. â€śAnd donations are definitely needed.â€ť
For more information or to donate, call 860-423-7065 for the Knights of Columbus San Jose Councilâ€™s â€śCoats for Kidsâ€ť event or 860-456-7270 for WAIM.