It Starts with a Warm Coat: Meet the Charlotte Coat Drive & the Salvation Army

August 24, 2019

It started nine years ago as a small donation of coats among Charlotte Mechanical’s founders and their friends.

Today, it is one of our region’s most important community events – The Charlotte Coat Drive.

Since 2010, Charlotte Mechanical has helped more than its customers stay warm during cold months. Through the love, generosity and support of special partnerships, the Charlotte Coat Drive continues to grow each year with all coats – new or gently used – donated to The Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte has served the residents of Mecklenburg and Union Counties since 1904. The Charlotte Coat Drive is a special part of that service as all coats collected will be distributed to their men, women and children’s shelters and the Boys and Girls Clubs. Charlotte Mechanical funds everything 100% with zero cost to The Salvation Army.

This year, we have a big goal, and we need YOUR help. We want to collect 5,000 coats to donate to the Salvation Army.

We spoke to Brent Rinehart, the Director of Communications for The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte, about not only the need here in Charlotte, but also the impact.

Charlotte Mechanical (CM): A lot of people are familiar with the Salvation Army name/brand, but perhaps need a refresher on your organization. What is the Salvation Army all about, and what makes your organization unique and special?

Brent Rinehart (BR): The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte has been serving this community since 1904. The Salvation Army’s message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. That’s why we exist; to support those who need us most and make sure every person in our community has the opportunity, hope and dignity he or she deserves.

CM: What is something about the Salvation Army organization that you wish more people knew about?

BR: 1,500 – that’s the approximate number of people we serve every single day. People see us at Christmas, but we are serving day in and day out, through programs like our Center of Hope shelter for women and families, affordable housing programs, eight area Boys & Girls Clubs, disaster response teams and more.

CM: What is something about the Charlotte community that you wish more people knew about?

BR: We all know the issues that we are facing here in Charlotte as it pertains to affordable housing. It is important for us to realize that it’s not just an issue for other people to worry about. It affects all of us. Here are a few numbers that really illuminate the problem: To afford a typical one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte, you have to make $17.25 an hour. Making minimum wage, you have to work 95 hours a week! It’s easy to see why so many of our neighbors are struggling. The Salvation Army is committed to helping those who need us most, those who find themselves out of options. Our goal is not just meet immediate needs of our neighbors experiencing homelessness, but it’s to equip them with the resources and job skills needed to find decent jobs and find and keep housing.

It starts with a warm coat, a bed to sleep in, a hot meal. But, the ultimate goal is a stable life where families can thrive.

CM: In just five words – adjectives – how would you describe the Salvation Army?

BR: We actually have five words that sum up not only The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte, but the organization around the world. These words are our core values. We aim to be Passionate, Compassionate, Brave, Uplifting, and Trustworthy. These words sum up what we are about and they are the motivation behind our service.

CM: What’s special or unique about local businesses – like Charlotte Mechanical – teaming up with the Salvation Army?

BR: We rely on the support of our donors and partners. We can’t continue to meet the needs of people in our community without it. Companies like Charlotte Mechanical, local businesses hosting coat drives, individuals making financial contributions are truly the army behind the Army.

CM: The Salvation Army is a part of a lot of special events and programs. What’s special about the Coat Drive in particular?

BR: The Charlotte Mechanical Coat Drive is a great opportunity to see what’s best about our city on display. Companies and individuals all across our community get involved. It’s a chance to see everyone working together to make sure every man, woman and child stays warm this winter. In the middle of the constant stream of bad news, it’s really inspiring to see good happen.

CM: Small acts make a big difference.  What is the big difference donating one coat can make?

BR: Every day, we have the privilege of seeing the difference one small act can make. A hot meal, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, even a smile. When you do something for someone else – even if it’s a “small” act, it makes a huge difference. It gives someone hope when they desperately need it. It’s not just a coat…it’s the start of a new life.

CM: What’s one word to describe the impact of The Coat Drive on Charlotte and the Charlotte community?

BR:  Life-changing. For those who will benefit from the donations, it will be life-changing. To all the donors and participating companies, to Charlotte Mechanical, we say “thank you” on behalf of all the families who will be impacted.

To learn more, please visit The Charlotte Coat Drive and The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte. Stay up to date on The Charlotte Coat Drive via Facebook.

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