By virtually any meaningful measure, winter has arrived in Wisconsin. Yes, I know the pendants out there will point out there remains more than a month until the true start to winter, but when the rivers start freezing and the snow doesn’t melt by mid-morning winter is here.
Like many people, I am in denial of this fact.
I still hold out hope that we may have a few days of warmth left before true winter arrives. Although this hope dwindles in direct proportion to how fast ice is forming on the Medford Millpond. I am fearful that last weekend’s peak in the 40s was as close to Indian Summer as we will see this season.
As an outward sign of not wanting to admit defeat, I have refused to start wearing my winter coat. Instead, when I have been forced outdoors, I have resorted to layers and wearing the lightweight sweatshirt jacket I use primarily in spring and fall. For the most part this has worked out ok for me as I scurry from my vehicle to a nice, warm building or even while helping hang Christmas lights last weekend in the Medford City Park.
It has also served as a reminder of how lucky I am to have a warm home to go to and that if I was not so thickheaded and stubborn about it, I could put on a warm coat.
There are many who are not as lucky.
There are many for whom a nice winter coat is out of reach. While adults have their own options and can in many cases make their own choices. Children of families in need have little in the way of options when it gets cold.
As any parent knows, children grow like weeds. A coat that fit perfectly at the end of last season is now several inches too short in the arms and won’t close around their chests.
For many of us, these growth spurts are an inconvenience, forcing us back to stores and causing us to whine about how clothes are being outgrown before they are worn out.
For those parents facing the choice between staying warm and putting food on the table, these growth spurts have a more serious impact. Fortunately, there is some help out there.
For the past several weeks, the Medford Kiwanis Club has been collecting winter coats as part of the annual Coats for Kids drive. The drive gives people the opportunity to donate coats to those in need. Collection boxes are located at Medford area churches and at the Medford County Market supermarket.
Kiwanians collect the coats, sort and clean them when necessary and then put them back out in the community to be used by those in need. Coats are available at the Taylor County Education Center on Donald St. and, new this year, at the United Church of Christ on Hwy 64 in Medford.
The coats are given without any strings attached. There are no forms to fill out or background checks to complete. People are simply asked to take only what they need.
Each year more than 400 coats are collected and redistributed through the program with coats going to children throughout Taylor County.
The coat drive officially ends on Sunday, Nov. 17, but the coats will be available for those in need throughout the winter season. Those wishing to donate coats are asked that they be clean and in good repair. New coats are also welcome.
Winter is a hard season for many people. The Kiwanis Coats for Kids drive helps bring a little bit of warmth into peoples’ lives.