Local business overcomes supply issues to host annual coat drive

NOW: Local business overcomes supply issues to host annual coat drive

PLYMOUTH, IND. --- Some charities have struggled to help those in need this holiday season because of the supply chain shortages, including a local organization that works to keep kids warm for the winter.

Oliver Ford puts on its Warm up Marshall County Kid's Coat Drive every year, but they weren't able to get hundreds of brand-new coats from the Walmart in Plymouth like they usually do.

“When you get that phone call or text message on Monday the week before you’re going to hand out coats it kind of creates a little panic,” said chairman of the drive, Steve Keiser with Oliver Ford.

The coat drive is going on it’s 23rd year and organizers weren’t ready to call it quits. They found another way to make it happen, with the help of a family-owned Michiana business.

They turned to Once Upon a Child. The family owned business cleared some of its store racks in Mishawaka and Goshen to help fill the need.

“Steve told me he needed 300 coats and I was like oh no, I don’t know if I’ve got 300 coats let me check and between the two stores maybe we can pull something together,” said Tracy Schrimsher, the Co-Owner of Once Upon a Child in Mishawaka and Goshen.

An expert with Indiana University said with current supply chain issues, filling any large single order is challenging for many right now. But Once Upon a Child said unlike major retailers they haven’t felt those supply chain impacts as much, which allowed them to pitch in.

 “We buy from our customers so that’s a good thing,” said Schrimsher.

“Offering quality kids clothing at a fraction of retail pricing, but to know that they are going to go to people who, you know it’s still our community you know. It’s a half hour away so they can’t come to Once Upon a Child every day, so it’s very heartwarming to know they are going to go to kids that need them,” added Once upon a Child co-owner Stephanie McCoy.

The store was able to provide just shy of 200 coats to Oliver Ford, something Keiser said has been essential especially amid the pandemic.

“It’s just a special feeling to see a kid put on a brand-new coat for the first time," added Keiser

The company partnered with several local organizations and received donations from the community to provide even more coats, including some for adults.

In addition to coats, hats and gloves will also be distributed on Saturday, November 20th from 10 a.m.- noon and on Sunday, November 21st from noon - 2 p.m. at the National Guard Armory at 1220 West Madison Street in Plymouth.

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