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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hundreds benefit from Coats for Kids drive

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Putnam County Juvenile Probation Department employees (from left) Sheila Penturf, Renee Marsteller and Samantha Richardson were among many who volunteered at the recent Putnam County Coats for Kids distribution at the Putnam County Fairgrounds.
The final numbers are in -- and 2008 was the biggest year yet for the Putnam County Coats for Kids drive.

"We started out with 675 coats, and we have less than 100 left," said Linda Merkel, who coordinated the collection of coats and the Nov. 15 distribution.

Merkel isn't sure of the number of families that were helped through the drive, Putnam County's ninth.

"We started out trying to count families, but we were just so busy we lost track," she said. "I'd say it was probably close to 100. What we did discover was that there were very few families that just needed one coat. I know we had one family that needed eight."

Merkel said some of the leftover coats would be given to the local charity the Christmas Store, while others will be saved for next year.

"We definitely need more boy coats for next year," she said. "Something else we did, with donations from Wal-Mart, was give each child gloves and a hat. We'll need more of those next year."

The number of coats given out this year was well above the past average.

"In the past we've collected a lot, but we've usually dispersed maybe 300 or 400," Merkel said.

Merkel attributed this year's jump in numbers to a couple of factors. First, it was held in the community building at the Putnam County Fairgrounds instead of the senior center, which meant hours could be extended and more parking was available. Secondly, Merkel said, the economy likely played a role.

Merkel was full of praise for the many volunteers that helped with coat collection and distribution.

"The volunteers were very friendly," she said. "They helped the kids try on coats, and they made the parents feel comfortable and welcome."

The drive also received a boost from Wabash Valley Goodwill Industries, which donated racks; an anonymous industry that donated 93 brand-new coats; DePauw University, which donated the use of its athletic facility's washer and dryer to launder donated coats; and Putnam County United Way.

"It truly was a community effort," Merkel said.

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