Sunbury Cleaners’ annual coat drive has collected more than twice the number of coats donated last year.
Each year leading up to the holidays, Sunbury Cleaners holds an annual coat and blanket drive. Store employees pitch in to clean coats so they are like new, and each year store employees hope to exceed the number of coats collected, cleaned and distributed the previous year.
This year, thanks to members of the greater Big Walnut community, they had a very big surprise.
Last year Sunbury Cleaners collected and distributed 700 coats, plus blankets, hats, an gloves to Big Walnut Friends Who Share and Better Way Ministries.
This year they exceeded 2,000 coats alone, plus the usual blankets, hats, gloves and miscellaneous items of clothing.
“We had such a great coat drive this year,” said store manager Jannie Milburn. “We had over 1,500 coats come into the Sunbury store, and another 543 from the Highland Lakes store.”
Milburn said numbers were up thanks to help from the Sunbury Lions Club and American Legion.
“We also had a call to pick up coats from a coat drive held by Best of Both Worlds, an effort of Westerville City Schools,” Milburn said. “They sent 231 coats, plus a ton of hats and gloves, all new, all kids’ sizes.”
Milburn said this year’s collection effort was so successful that Sunbury Cleaners expanded the distribution of coats, gloves and blankets.
“We were able to help the American Legion in Johnstown by sending them 175 coats,” Milburn said. “This year we also sent 400 coats to the Mound Street shelter, plus blankets and six large trash bags of clothing. We sent more than 400 coats to Faith Mission, plus 80 blankets and six bags of clothing.”
Milburn said 221 coats were delivered to Big Walnut Friends Who Share and, through Dave Widder, another 200 coats went to Better Way Ministries.
Also benefiting from this year’s coat drive was a shelter for women and children that received 10 bags of clothing; and donated men’s suits were cleaned and went to Columbus Restored Citizens Committee for men to wear when interviewing for jobs.
Milburn said that even though the annual coat drive has officially ended, local folks are still bringing coats, hats, gloves and other clothing items to Sunbury Cleaners.
“This community has not quit, and we’ll take whatever clothing items people want to bring in,” Milburn said. “We continue to find more and more places serving people in need.”
Milburn said the coat drive could not happen without the help of every store employee and the generosity of the Big Walnut community.
“I moved to Sunbury 38 years ago, and I never want to live anywhere else,” Milburn said. “This is one of the best communities. Big Walnut people come through no matter what the need is. This has already been the best year we’ve ever had, and people are still giving. From my heart, I thank the members of this community.”
While spring cleaning, don’t casually discard unwanted clothing, he added. Sunbury Cleaners will take coats and other clothing items for distribution to those in need.
Sunbury Cleaners is at 23 W. Granville St. in Sunbury, and at 6152 Highland Lakes Ave. in Westerville. For more information, call 740-965-3046.
Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.