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Guest Column: Needs are being met, but there’s always more

Live United by Erin Haag

Erin Haag


This year, Thanksgiving is the latest it can be. While it means we celebrate my mother’s birthday on Thanksgiving, it also means this year is the shortest period between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

With the first measurable snowfall of the season this week, suddenly people are in a holiday frame of mind. Regardless of if you’re putting up the Christmas tree and blasting Christmas carols, or if you’re sharing comics about the turkey pushing Santa out of the way — it’s cold outside. My children greeted the first snowfall by playing for an hour before school. They were bundled up in their snow pants, warm coats, hats and mittens. I was so thankful I had a second set to change them into so they’d be dry for school. I know their winter gear they’ve grown out of is being put to good use by the family we donated to.

We’ve had quite a lot of donations for our Jack Frost’s Closet, providing winter gear to those in need. I was so encouraged the last couple of weeks by the number of phone calls we’ve had, with people bringing in donations. On the flip side, I was also a little overwhelmed by the sheer need for winter gear. Daily, we’re getting calls from social workers, food pantry leaders and other advocates in our communities. They’re listening to the stories of people in our area and asking for coats.

We have a few big needs. A 3X men’s coat is one of them. Winter boots, waterproof gloves and children’s snowpants. We’ve had many donations of coats that are suitable for fall and spring. Those are helpful, and will be put to good use. However, we all know that a windbreaker on a cold Minnesota day like we’re expecting next week isn’t going to be enough.

With these considerations in mind, I’d like to share that we have opened up an Amazon wish list. Search for United Way of Freeborn County or for Jack Frost’s Closet. We’ll be sharing the link on our Facebook page, as well as specific need requests.

Want to help but don’t have the time to shop? When you make a donation and let us know that it’s for Jack Frost’s closet, 100% of that is used to buy a winter coat. That’s 100% of your donation that’s going straight to buy a winter coat or gloves or hat. You can stop by our office at 314 Broadway, donate on our website online or give us a call!

Have a coat? At last count, there are 22 locations for drop off in the county. Walmart, City Arena, Whimzy Toys and The Interchange are all drop box locations. You can also drop off at our main site at Northbridge Mall.

Call our office or check our website for locations in Hayward, Alden, Geneva and Hartland.

Many have asked us when our drive ends. My answer is it doesn’t. As long as there’s a need for coats, we’ll be accepting them. Even in March, there’s a child who suddenly had a growth spurt and needs a coat or that a pair of snow boots finally wore out and is letting in cold, wet snow. Consider us in the spring time, or in the summer time when you’re cleaning out closets. Getting a head start on the need for next year is never a bad thing.

In other news, we’re gearing up for our Week of Kindness, Nov. 18-22. We’ve already seen wonderful encouragement for our area children to be kind. The Meraki Studios challenged their students to be kind and share it on their board. Whimzy Toys started their Kindness Counts Bingo. Here at the United Way, we’ll be announcing an art contest that week and sharing artwork — so stay tuned, and be kind!

Erin Haag is executive director of the United Way of Freeborn County.