Coats for Kids donations down, need up

The annual Coats for Kids campaign is facing the chilly prospect of trying to collect 1,300 donated coats in one week.

In the current economic slump, fewer people are contributing to the annual campaign sponsored by KDRV Channel 12. While donations are down, demand is up, said Susanne Robertson, one of the volunteers working on this year's campaign.

Robertson's employer, Windemere Van Fleet, donates $7.50 for every real estate sale that closes to provide cash to buy coats, but those funds are scarce, too.

"Obviously the real estate industry hasn't been doing so well the last couple years," she said.

"We usually donate around $2,000 to fill the gap between what's requested and what's available, and we don't have the money this year."

All told, about 3,500 coats have been requested, and only about 2,200 have been collected so far this year.

Low donations and lack of funds aside, Channel 12 creative services director Geoffrey Riley said political ads this campaign season have limited the amount of air time available to promote the coat drive.

Donations are down in the Rogue Valley and surrounding areas, too, Riley said.

"Even in Klamath Falls, a guy called and told me he usually has eight bags (of coats) by now and he's only got two," Riley said. "It's the usual thing in any economic downturn. Your supply drops and your demand increases."

Carl Loar, general manager of Southern Oregon Linens, the company that cleans the coats at no charge, challenged local residents and business owners to contribute.

"Usually we've already done probably 1,000 coats by now," he said. "But we haven't even come close to that this year. It's important for people to remember the young kids that don't have coats and whose parents can't afford them."

Robertson said the prospect of not having enough coats to go around is "unthinkable."

"One of teachers called, asking when coats would be ready because they have a mother walking her children to school with a blanket wrapped around their shoulders," she said. "Then she puts the blanket around her shoulders to walk home because she doesn't have a coat either.

"Demand is up 300 percent," she said, "and our donation barrels are nowhere near as full as usual.

"I can't imagine telling somebody, 'You asked for 90 coats but we've only got 30.' "

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at

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