More than 100 winter coats for adults and children were donated by local residents to the “Warm for Winter Holidays” coat collection and giveaway, an initiative organized through a partnership with Mayor Allen Joines, Red H.E.A.R.R.T. (Help Educate And Reduce Risk Today) and the Winston-Salem Police Department. Under the initiative, held January 10th-16th, community residents with coats, hats or gloves to spare were encouraged to hang them on the fence outside the Beaty Center under protective plastic. Those in need came by and selected items from the fence to help them stay warm.
“Many people who live in Winston-Salem are in dire need of warm coats. Everyone should have their basic needs met, and warmth is one of those needs. While I had the desire to do this effort, I couldn’t have done it without the Mayor’s office, Linda Jackson-Barnes (the assistant to the Mayor who facilitated the approvals needed) and the WSPD. But none of this would have been possible without the giving hearts of the community, sharing their coats, gloves and scarves. I reached out to homeless shelters in our community and asked that they share the availability of the coats and that we have resources they can access,” said Cheryl Lindsay, Red H.E.A.R.T.T. founder.
The idea of hanging the coats on a fence came from Cheryl’s research on how to have a coat drive, allowing people to choose what they need. “I came across an article in which people in Dublin, Ireland put coats outside for those who need them, hanging the coats on a fence. So, in 2020, I asked the Mayor and the WSPD to host, and we had our first ‘Warm for Winter Holidays’ coat drive. In our city, once all shelters are full, we have more than 250 homeless that are on the streets. This year, we have more than 690 homeless youth that have registered in the school system. There is so much need, and there are so many generous hearts in our community that are willing to share and help others,” Cheryl commented.
Today, the face of the homeless has expanded, and it is much different than it was 10 or even five years ago.
“Homeless at one time expanded to those that may not have been employed and fell on hard times. Yet, the face of homelessness has expanded once again to even include those that are employed; they don’t make enough to pay for housing and/or they are in-between government assistance to be able to get a home. No matter the reason, I want to show love because everyone is someone’s child, brother, sister, mother or father. We want the homeless to know they aren’t invisible; we see them and their needs and love them. Love is an action word. You have to show action, and this coat drive was one way to show love, provide warmth and love during the time when one needs it most,” stated Cheryl.