On my way to work early in the morning, I’ve been watching the thermostat drop each day as the colder weather quickly approaches. For some, cold weather means going down in the basement and unpacking the winter clothes, but for others, it means heading to local charities in hopes of acquiring warm clothes for their family.

After coming across a troubling report on the current state of donation centers, I worry for the families who rely on donations during this time of year.

NECN recently spoke to Mickey Cockrell, CEO and founder of Catie’s Closet, “a nonprofit organization that partners with local schools to aid undeserved kids [and]…turns unused rooms in schools into a Catie’s closet stocked with clothing, shoes…toiletries and school supplies.”

According to the Catie’s Closet website, they have helped millions of students in Massachusetts and New Hampshire by boosting their self-esteem and motivating these kids to stay in school. COVID-19 has made their mission much harder, saying “the challenges presented by remote learning, physical distancing, loss of connection, and deepened poverty make it nearly impossible for students to imagine a future past this ‘new normal.’”

One of their recent Facebook posts startled me. It showed rows and rows of empty shelves due to the lack of donations.

Donating has become more difficult due to COVID-19 restrictions, and while some donation centers have come up with a safe system involving specific drop off hours, the high demand prevents these centers from holding on to clothing for very long.

I have a feeling that Catie’s Closet is just one example of the current situation for donation centers. It’s getting cold on the SouthCoast, and as you unpack your winter clothes for the months ahead, take a hard look at what’s in your closet.

If you can afford to thin out your inventory, please consider donating to your local community.

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