Last year we celebrated the tenth anniversary of our primary philanthropic initiative, the Charlotte Coat Drive. While you hear about it in the fall when the drive is active, we actually start planning in the spring, and really kick things into high gear now. All the planning has made us so nostalgic, and we have been reflecting on how amazing you, our Charlotte community, is. You came out in a HUGE way to donate last year (to the tune of 4k+ coats) – one of the craziest years most of us have ever experienced. While we celebrated in January, we wanted to pause again to share the impact of your generous acts. So, we caught up with our friend, Brent Rinehart, communication director at our beneficiary organization: Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte. The Salvation Army is a tremendous organization and we are grateful for all their work to help our community.
Brent Rinehart (BR): COVID-19 had a tremendous impact on our community as we saw many people come to us for assistance who had never sought assistance before. Before the pandemic, our Center of Hope shelter in Charlotte served an average of 400 people every night. Due to serving individuals and families at multiple motel sites across the community, we served nearly 700 every night throughout the pandemic.
(BR): New coats were distributed to families in need through our Christmas Assistance program. Kids coats were distributed through our area Boys& Girls Clubs. And the bulk of the coats were distributed to people in our community experiencing homelessness - at our Center of Hope shelter, at various motel sites across the community (where we were housing people due to COVID-19) and at the Cold-Weather shelter (another motel site) where people were able to stay during the coldest winter months. We also make coats available to other Salvation Army units across the Metrolina area, to serve people in nearby communities such as Cabarrus County, Gaston County, York County, etc.
BR: In general, I can say that everyone who I’ve personally witnessed at a distribution event has been very appreciative and thankful for the coats. Giving the coat makes a difference, as it is combined with other programs and services. Collectively, it’s the boost of hope a working mother, for example, needs to keeping putting one foot in front of the other.
BR: We held a coat distribution event at the Cold Weather Shelter. This is a facility that is a last resort for individuals or families who have nowhere else to go during the coldest nights of the year. Countless people were so appreciative of having access to a warm coat. Many of those individuals have now found housing, jobs and have gotten back on their feet after their stay with us. We also worked alongside community partners every day at the former North End Encampment (Tent City). As our staff came across individuals in need of a coat, they were able to offer that to them.