One Warm Coat is a national, grassroots, all volunteer organization that helps local groups collect coats for people in need. Started in 1992 in San Francisco as a Thanksgiving weekend activity, One Warm Coat expanded nationally in 2002—in four short years, more than 1,000 coat drives have been held, resulting in more than 300,000 free coats going to those in need.
Winter is approaching—thousands of individuals will feel the impact of the cold. Whether someone is poor, homeless, working poor, mentally ill, socially isolated—everyone needs a coat to protect them from the cold. A One Warm Coat drive draws on the resources of the local community to solve this need—the volunteers who organize the drive, the donors who recognize that their unused items are needed, and the local agencies that distribute the coats.
We use the phrase "warming communities…one coat at a time" to capture the connection that happens. Not only are warm coats being distributed, but people of all ages are learning how to care for those less fortunate.
We have the statistics that show the impact of One Warm Coat in terms of coats collected, but perhaps more importantly, we have hundreds of messages from people telling us about their experiences—the young man doing his "Mitzvah" project in 2004 who felt so compelled that he did the coat drive a second year; the little girl who gave up her favorite coat because she saw a girl at the agency that it would fit; the hospital employees who found out just how much space 500 coats take up. But the best message we've received was from a nine year old girl at Hope House in Wisconsin, "I'm just glad I'm not cold no more."
With an operating budget of less than $50,000 per year and the 'magic' of the internet, we've been able to bring warmth into the lives of thousands.