Margee Shelly stands in St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Minden, surrounded by winter clothing. There are coats, boots, toques and mitts. There are also lined pants, snow pants and warm wooly sweaters.

She’d just as soon see the room empty, though.

The SIRCH program co-ordinator is in the middle of not just clothes, but the annual Share the Warmth campaign. An initiative of SIRCH Community Services, it helps families and seniors stay warm all winter by distributing free coats and winter outerwear.

Organizers announced last week that the collection period has been extended to Nov. 11. They’ve already had two giveaway days, last Thursday in Minden and this past Saturday in Haliburton.

“It’s been on and off,” Shelly told The Highlander on Oct. 24. “Quite a bit is going out the door, actually. There’s families picking up things for other families, for friends, or sisters or other kids so this is fabulous.”

She said that up to now, they haven’t received as many children’s coats and accessories as they’d like, but she’s also aware that local families often swap clothing.

However, she is putting out a call for more donated children’s clothing and boots. She added they’ll take anything, always looking for various sizes. They also want snow pants. But, “We will take anything that’s meant for winter.”

A woman strolls up with a bag full of items.“I’ve got two coats, nine socks and two mitts,” the woman says. “Thank you.” As Shelly writes the items in a ledger, she tells the woman to “take a coffee or hot chocolate if you want.”

Shelly says the reaction to the giveaway has been very positive.

She said two couples showed up at 9 a.m. with big families with children and grandchildren.

“The one particular couple, the gentleman who came in, he was over the moon, ‘oh my goodness, thank you so much’.”

Another woman strolls up and says, “I think a lot of people have a hard time coming,” due to stigma. She knew of a family in need so came to shop for them.

If you would like to contribute, bring clean, gently used coats and outerwear to Haliburton Foodland, Todd’s Independent, Algonquin Outfitters, or SIRCH (49 Maple Ave., second floor).

You can also drop off your items in Minden at Dollo’s Foodland, Easton’s ValuMart and St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

Items are being accepted until Nov. 11.

In addition, two more giveaway days will take place in November (dates and locations to be announced). For more information call SIRCH at 705-457-1742.

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