Local Charity Helping to Keep People Warm During Winter

Although fall has just recently come, winter is on the horizon. With winter comes cold weather. For those who cannot simply grab a coat off a hanger once that icy weather hits, there are events such as the Coat Giveaway, which is hosted by a local charity organization called Neighborhood House.

The giveaway will be held from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 17 and 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 18 at Neighborhood House’s facility on 1020 S. Matthew St in Peoria. It will allow those who do not have winter coats for themselves and/or their families to take home free coats, mittens, hats and scarves.

While this is only the fourth year the giveaway has been done, Neighborhood House has been around since 1896. Originally, the organization was meant to help impoverished immigrants get shelter and other living needs. Neighborhood House now focuses on helping a variety of people of different economic conditions who live on Peoria’s south end through a variety of programs like Coat Giveaway.

Bobby Knoll, head of the Coat Giveaway volunteers and who grew up in the south end, thinks the giveaway is an absolute necessity for those who live in that section of Peoria, some of which have six or seven people who live with them who need coats, mittens, gloves and hats.

“There are many people in that area that don’t have a lot of transportation [and] they don’t have a lot of money, and so, it’s really needed in that area,” Knoll said.

Each family is allowed one coat, one pair of gloves and one of whatever item of clothing is available for each person in their household. The clothing is donated and, in some cases, made year around by those in the Peoria area.

Knoll says they get around 300 to 400 coats each year.

The giveaway is not limited to only those in the south end, however. Someone from anywhere can pick up a coat, if they need it. This matches up with some of Neighborhood House’s other programs, which do more than just help those suffering economically.

“It depends on which program it is,” Becky Rossman, executive director of Neighborhood House, said. “For example, [the] Meal on Wheels program is something that provides nutritious meals for homebound seniors. There’s no financial requirement. Some people are of lower socioeconomic status, [but] people don’t have to be below the poverty line to receive that service.”

Other than Meal on Wheels, Neighborhood House programs include but are not limited to Critter Meal on Wheels, which provides food for the pets of homebound seniors. There is also a childcare service that takes in children from 6 weeks old to 12 years old and provides programs such as indoor activity play, use of creative curriculum and a summer camp program with various activities like guest speakers and field trips.

If you are interested in volunteering at Neighborhood House, you can call Community Outreach Director Roberta English Simpson at 309-674-1131 or email her at RobertaE@NHPeoria.org. If you want more information about their programs or want to donate to the organization, you can visit their website at http://www.nhpeoria.org/index.html.

For those who are thinking about volunteering, an important take away is Neighborhood House looks to help people help themselves and programs like the Coat Giveaway are a part of that. 

“There’s just a lot issues going on with the economy,” Rossman said. “So, people may not be able to afford those types of things, which most of us consider just normal attire.”