Annual drive collects more than 800 coats | SteamboatToday.com

Annual drive collects more than 800 coats

Teresa Ristow

Zachary Chelberg helps collect coats during the Coat Drive for Lift-Up of Routt County at Natural Grocers. Volunteers gathered more than 800 coats.

— Routt County should have no problem bundling up during cold weather this winter, thanks to a coat drive that generated more than 800 jackets for local residents.

Co-hosted annually by Colorado Group Realty and LiftUp of Routt County, this year's coat drive brought in 858 coats, well surpassing the previous record of most coats collected — 347 in 2014.

"There's always a need to stay warm, and it's one of the simplest things to donate an extra coat here and there," said Suzanna Bloom, office manager for LiftUp. "It's great to see how thankful people are to receive a coat."

The coats were collected by volunteers, including some helpers from Steamboat's Young Professionals Network, during two days in late October, and then given out for free during a two-week distribution at LiftUp earlier this month.

The coats were first sent to Ski Town Cleaners for a free cleaning and then sorted and hung up in the building next door to LiftUp for the distribution.

About 250 coats were picked up during the event.

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Bloom said the coats are now available for purchase in the LiftUp thrift store, though any LiftUp clients who missed the distribution can still get one for free.

"The coat drive shows how caring and generous this community is," said Kevin Dietrich, broker/owner with Colorado Group Realty. "People are dropping off bags full of coats to provide warmth for those less fortunate."

Bloom said many coats the organization gave out were new, with tags still attached, and said the coat drive addresses a great need in the region.

"It's such a basic need to stay warm, especially in our climate," she said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow