Has it gotten cold where you are? Here in Northern California, the heaters are on at night, and children are bundling up for school in the mornings. It’s no surprise that one of the biggest needs right now is winter wear. Heating can get quite expensive and the costs of jackets, boots and other accessories go up every year – and especially in this historic period of inflationary pressure, it seems like costs are rising every day. Getting family members all set up with warm clothes is stressful for many underprivileged families – especially since children seem to outgrow their clothing in a blink of an eye.
Here are some considerations when purchasing or requesting winter gear from your donors:
- Although it’s tempting, the lowest cost item is not always your best choice. When comparing options, be sure to double check:
- That you are making an apples to apples comparison. For example,with coats, are both of the options of similar quality – is the jacket lined, and is the material of similar quality? You get what you pay for, and it’s no surprise that the lower cost items will often not hold up as well or provide the warmth that is needed.
- The actual size of the items. Sometimes, you’ll see great prices, but they are for the smallest sizes – and the large sizes will cost quite a bit more than the advertised “hook” price.
- If the vendor actually has the items in stock. Especially right now, inventory is spotty, even with some of the largest vendors. If you need the items by a certain time, make sure the vendor has them already in their warehouse and that they can get them to you in time.
- For particularly cold areas of the country:
- Hats: Look for hats that are lined for extra warmth. Most low cost knit hats are not lined and provide minimal protection again the harsh cold.
- Socks: Opt for thermal socks where possible for added warmth. Alternatively, pick thicker fabrics if the thermal socks are out of reach.
- Small children may benefit from mittens rather than gloves as they are much easier to put on/off. Their parents will thank you too. You may also want to purchase some extra to give out on hand – gloves and mittens are easily lost!
- Blankets, throws and anything in between are great and much appreciated. These can usually be found for bargain prices closer to the holidays, and they are well loved at any age or size.
- Consider including a couple of personal care items such as lotion and chapstick. The cold weather can be rough on the skin, and those are sure to provide some relief.
- If your drive is for the homeless, consider blankets that are made of materials that don’t get soaked easily. Fabric types include: wool, man-made fiber, or fleece. If laundry is not available on a regular basis consider including two pairs of socks, or some laundry soap bar. Lastly, consider a rain poncho and hand warmer packs for the extra cold and rainy nights.
- Consider adding a few packets of hot cocoa, tea or instant soup to complete a gift, care package, or fill a stocking.
As nonprofits, there are a few options for in-kind campaigns to get winter ready:
- Adopt A Family (or Person) Program: One option is to collect your needs and post them to donors for “adoption” – donor in particular like to read about the people they are helping, and the personal touch goes a long way. Be sure to get the sizes and favorite styles and colors. Some families will need a reminder to consider asking for a shoe or jacket that is half a size or a size up, so that it can serve at least through the end of the season. It is also important to understand the weather in the area of the recipient. For example, if they get a lot of snow, the donor might consider a snow boot. If it rains a lot, then jackets would need to be waterproof etc. As always with “Adopt a Family” programs, the needs will need to be tailored to specific individuals, so knowing their sizes and other preferences is key.
- Winter Collection Drive: Some of our nonprofits prefer organize a collection drive. This is a more general collection strategy and does not require you to track individual needs, sizes, and preferences. Items can include winter jackets, socks, hats, gloves, and more. In addition to placing bins in public places and asking people to bring them over, you can set up an online drive to make it easy for your donors to purchase specific items you need.
- Gift Card Drive: While they can be used for anything, gift cards are still an option, especially if used as a method to supplement winter wear that is in specific or unusual sizes, or any missing items. Gift cards are not as popular with donors, but they provide your clients with flexibility for what they need.
- Bulk Purchasing: If you have the funds through a grant or reserves, you can always just purchase your winter weather items! Our team at Roonga can help order those items a reduced, affordable price – winter jackets, socks, hats, gloves and more. You may choose to include other sought after items such as underwear. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a quote!
Need some tips for getting started? Or have some questions? We are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us anytime at email@example.com.