Village in the Valley partnered with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and Meijer on Westnedge Avenue to purchase a $1,000 winter coat and snow jacket (photo courtesy of Village in the Valley). Photo courtesy of Village in the Valley
Kalamazoo, Michigan - A local non-profit village in the valley works with local businesses and institutions to raise funds for winter equipment.
Village in the Valley director TC Custard posted on the non-profit organization's Facebook page about the launch of the coat event on November 1. Custard said that more than 300 coats were donated during the event last year.
Once the donations are collected in the first or second week of December, the non-profit organization plans to conduct a public charity outside the Kalamazoo County Court in downtown Kalamazoo as in previous years.
Castad said that the YMCA will accept donated jacket drives by the end of November. By early December, she will still accept donations directly.
YMCA Kalamazoo-Portage President and CEO Dave Morgan said: "Whether it is COVID, there will always be families in financial or other difficulties." "We will not leave; we will be here and be part of this community. We know that we cannot do all of this; we know that TC cannot do all of this. As a partner, we are much stronger than working alone."
Donations will be accepted at the Greater Kalamazoo YMCA branch at 1001 W. Maple St. in Kalamazoo and at the YMCA Portage location (2900 W. Centre Road).
If those interested in donating cannot reach the YMCA location, Custard has offered to collect donations from the donors.
"I do this every year," Castad said. "The organization has been established and running for six years. So, for the past three to four years, I have been doing jacket-driven. Recently, due to the pandemic, many people have lost their funds and things have slowed down."
Custard said that last year, the Kalamazoo Ministry of Public Safety provided the organization with $1,000 for shopping with officials. Eric Cunningham, then city commissioner, also participated in Meijer's winter gear shopping trip.
"In addition to the 300 coats I have collected from the community, we bought 70 new coats and 70 new snow pants for $1,000," Custard said. "I don't discriminate against used jackets or snow pants; if it is something that can be worn, the child can have it."
As last year, she said that KDPS will provide $1,000 to donate winter jackets and snow pants to children in the Kalamazoo community.
Custard said that she began to pay more attention to the homeless in Kalamazoo and concluded that this was another reason for focusing on the winter clothes themselves rather than their condition.
"The homeless population is very large," Kastad said.
She said the number of homeless youths was particularly disturbing, but it only encouraged her even more.
Custard said that even for working parents, a coat and snow pants can cost $85 or more. This does not include hats, gloves and boots.
"My biggest goal is to find ways to reduce the cost of some of these things," Castad said. "Not only for our homeless people, but also the children and those who cannot afford it, because I am also their advocate."
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