Combining her dislike of cold winter weather and love of community service, a Seymour native has started a new local project to provide winter wear to those who need it.
Kayla Jordan is organizing One Warm Coat Jackson County, which involves collecting new or gently used coats, gloves, hats and scarves.
Six local businesses agreed to set up boxes for people to drop off donations for the drive, which starts Monday and runs through Dec. 14.
All donations will be given to the Jackson County Clothing Center, a nonprofit organization that provides clothing and small household items for people in need.
“There were times in college and things like that where I didn’t have a coat, but I was too embarrassed to ask people or let my family know, because you never want to let people know,” said Jordan, 24, a 2010 Seymour High School graduate. “Being cold is one of the worst feelings, and I don’t think anyone should have to be cold.”
One Warm Coat started in 1992 with a Thanksgiving weekend coat drive at one location in San Francisco. It has grown to a national organization supporting more than 20,000 coat drives and providing more than 4 million coats to people who need them, according to onewarmcoat.org.
Jordan said she conducted a food drive last year when she was living in Clarksville while attending classes at Indiana University Southeast, but it didn’t go as well as she hoped.
Now that she is living in Seymour, she said she feels like she will be able to be more successful with the winter clothing drive.
Jordan came across One Warm Coat online and found out organizing her own clothing drive wasn’t too difficult. The organization provides free instructions, materials, tools and resources to get your own drive started. The only cost Jordan has had is purchasing a few boxes.
She reached out to Jackson County Untied Way, which told her about the clothing center in Seymour. Until that point, she said she didn’t know the clothing center existed.
“They let me know they are always accepting donations all through the year,” Jordan said.
She started a Facebook page in late October and then began contacting local businesses about setting up dropoff boxes.
So far, The Brooklyn Pizza Co., B2 Bikes and Boards, Pout, Java Joint and 13th Floor Music and Accessories, all in Seymour, and Jackson County REMC in Brownstown have agreed to have dropoff boxes.
“I want to give a shoutout to the businesses,” she said. “They are awesome. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Jordan said other businesses and organizations can still get involved by sending a message through the One Warm Coat Jackson County Facebook page.
“I’ve also made it very clear on the Facebook page for anyone who has health issues and can’t get out to the donation places or just don’t have a car, whatever it may be, we will come to them if they message us on the Facebook page to pick up coats or anything else,” she said.
As far as a goal for the project, Jordan said she hasn’t narrowed down the number of coats she hopes to collect.
“The number doesn’t matter, necessarily. Just as long as we’re getting coats to people who wouldn’t have had them before,” she said.
“When I started this, I asked my fiance, ‘Oh, should I do this? I’m kind of nervous. I don’t know if people are going to want to do it,’” she said. “He was like, ‘Listen, if we only get one or two coats, that’s more than someone had before, and it’s a success.’”
Jordan said this is her second time organizing her own community service project. At a young age, she was introduced to the importance of helping the community.
“When I was young, I was in Girl Scouts. I was in it for a long time, like 10 years,” she said. “That was our thing, was to do community service, so that has always kind of been instilled in me as a person to do community service. Now that I’m not in Girl Scouts, I’ve just taken it upon myself to kind of push myself.”
Also, when she was a student at Seymour Middle School, she always contributed to its annual clothing drive.
“It was really great,” she said. “It was fun, and it had a lot of incentives. Everybody competed to get the most coats and stuff.”
Then when she was living in Clarksville, she often helped out at an animal shelter in Jeffersonville.
Jordan said she encourages others to get involved in community service and maybe even start their own project. All you need is a willingness to do it, a goal and a target audience, she said.
“I think a lot of people feel overwhelmed about it, and they want to do things, but they feel like it’s going to be very difficult or they don’t have enough time or money,” she said. “But there are a lot of sources out there that you can do stuff for free to help your community. I hope a lot more people will take initiative and do it.”
The One Warm Coat Jackson County winter clothing drive starts Monday and runs through Dec. 14.
Items accepted include new or gently used coats, gloves, hats and scarves. All donations will be given to the Jackson County Clothing Center in Seymour.
Dropoff boxes will be set up at The Brooklyn Pizza Co., B2 Bikes and Boards, Pout, Java Joint and 13th Floor Music and Accessories, all in Seymour, and Jackson County REMC in Brownstown.
Other businesses and organizations can still get involved by offering to set up a dropoff box.
For information, contact organizer Kayla Jordan at 812-620-4565 or send her a message through the One Warm Coat Jackson County Facebook page.
For information about the One Warm Coat national organization, visit onewarmcoat.org.