STEPHEN HEMELT — Coat and Jacket Drive is great way to help in Orange County

Published 12:30 am Sunday, November 6, 2022

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With colder weather approaching in the coming months, those in Orange County with the opportunity are asked to contribute to an ongoing Coat and Jacket Drive.

The effort spearheaded through United Way of Orange County runs through Friday (Nov. 11).

According to President and CEO Maureen McAllister, this is the third year United Way has lead this effort.

“It is not a huge event; it’s just another small thing we do to try to give back,” McAllister told Orange Newsmedia.

The effort launched four years ago in 2019 but took a one-year hiatus during the COVID pandemic.

Participating residents are asked to drop off donations at one of three locations:

  • Johnson Mini Storage, 2400 MLK Drive, Orange
  • Lamar State College Orange Student Center, 407 Green Avenue, Orange
  • Mann Insurance Agency, 1505 West Park Avenue, Orange

McAllister said Mann Insurance and Johnson Storage have been longtime drop locations and were picked because they are located on opposite ends of town.

“They are smaller businesses and good supporters of our community,” she said. “This is a nice way to include them. With Lamar State College Orange serving as a drop spot, there are a lot of students and faculty who go through there. It’s a nice way for them to have something convenient to serve as a drop spot.”

Even though Southeast Texas is not as cold as some areas of the country, McAllister stresses when it is cold, it can be trouble for those without proper attire.

With some in the community cleaning out their closets ahead of the holidays and others going through style changes, there are coats or jackets available to donate. One business in 2021 bought several jackets and donated the brand new items to the effort.

Organizers are seeking new and gently used items at the drop locations.

McAllister said the items would be collected, vetted and brought to The Salvation Army of Orange County, so they can eventually get to those in need.

“It’s only coats and jackets, so we’re not taking shoes and clothes,” McAllister said. “No other types of clothing. If they are not new, they need to be gently used. We don’t want them tattered and stained with broken zippers. We don’t want anything in bad shape. But sometimes you can have jackets for a long time and they are still in good shape. You just don’t wear them for whatever reason anymore.”

The effort is needed now more than in previous memory.

“Nowadays, the price of everything has gone up,” McAllister said. “People may not be able to afford it. Maybe they have outgrown what they had and can’t afford to buy something new.”

That is where the Salvation Army comes into play. They see clients who come in for assistance with rent or utilities or they are there for the food pantry, and McAllister knows those case managers can identify who needs a hand up.

“They can say, ‘look we have some jackets that were donated, what about this?’” according to McAllister. “They are very grateful to get those.

“After (Nov. 11), we will collect all the coats and jackets from the drop spots, do an inventory on them and make sure they are in decent condition to pass on. Then we will drop them all off.”

Stephen Hemelt is the publisher at Orange Newsmedia, which produces the Orange Leader and He can be reached at