SMARM coat drive set Saturday

Hundreds of coats, other winter goods to be given to needy
Dec. 06, 2012 @ 12:40 AM

The 12th coat drive sponsored by Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministries will be held Saturday, Dec. 8 in the parking lot next to the agency's Treasures of the Heart thrift store, corner of Cedar and Court streets downtown.

SMARM has some 2,500 coats — for children and adults — available for anyone who wants one, agency director Dick Wellons said. They are free. The drive will be held from 9 a.m. to around 12:30 p.m.

In addition to coats, there are sweatshirts, toboggans and mittens. All will be displayed on racks in the parking lot.

The winter clothing is given away with no questions asked.

"If somebody needs one, we provide it," Wellons said. "We want to make sure we have enough for everyone."

With 2,500 stored, you'd think that would be plenty, but Wellons said extra-large and children sizes often are in short supply.

"We never seem to have enough of those," he said.

That's why individuals and organizations are urged to continue to donate coats — especially for big adults and kids — to the cause.

Over the dozen years of the coat drive, Wellons estimates the agency has given away more than 200,000 coats. This year SMARM has partners to help with the effort, with several churches and local 4-H clubs providing volunteers as well as food for the event.

Boy Scout Troop 119 again will prepare lunches, featuring fried turkey.

SMARM, which began in 2001 and has been led all those years by Wellons, is a private nonprofit faith-based agency which assists people in need with such things as rent payments, temporary housing, clothes and referrals.

"The coat drive is a way for us to demonstrate our love of Christ by providing for the needs of others," he said.

During the coat drive, volunteers will keep going back to the stored coats to bring out new ones, so the selection remains strong.

SMARM always has its coat drive on the same day First Baptist Sevierville does its annual Christmas project of providing food, toys and essentials for families in need. Doing it on the same day gives people a chance to get help from SMARM and the church without having to drive so far and burn up expensive gasoline.