It is once again the holiday season in New England. For both locals and visitors, Massachusetts inspires a vision of snow-capped hills, cozy window displays, and a longing for general merriment.
Traditionally, winter is also a time of giving. People give presents to one another and give thanks for what they have. The holiday season also inspires people to give to those less fortunate.
It was the Anton family’s desire to give back to the community in the tradition of the season that prompted them to start the Coats for Kids charity drive in 1995.
Anton’s Cleaners has set up collection sites at all of its 43 locations around the area. People can donate used coats, provided they are in serviceable condition, to be distributed to those who need them. Fifteen years, and over 620,000 collected coats later, the drive is still going strong.
“The goal of Coats for Kids is to make certain that the strong demand for warm coats is matched by the even stronger generosity of our neighbors throughout the region,” says Charles A. Anton, CEO of Anton’s Cleaners.
The program started as a way for the family to give back to the community as their business grew. Anton’s Cleaners was founded in 1913, in Lowell, MA. The little family-owned business expanded and duplicated, until it was no longer a small business, but a franchise of 43 locations. Third-generation Antons attribute their success to their rich heritage of quality, service, environmental responsibility and community commitment.
This year the business is pushing for 60,000 coats to be donated before Jan. 8. Anton’s Cleaners will then clean the coats at their own expense and pass them off to distribution partners for dispersal. Last year the Antons were able to give away 58,000 coats donated by local residents.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment is estimated to be around 8 percent this winter in Massachusetts. With less money circulating in households, and fuel-poverty at an all-time high, distribution of warm, gently-worn winter clothing has become more necessary than ever, making charities such as Coats For Kids crucial.
“We need children and adult coats that are in usable condition, free of rips, missing buttons, permanent stains or broken zippers,” Charles Anton said.
Anton’s Cleaners has joined forces with promotional support from FOX25 television, Jordan’s Furniture and KISS-108 radio station. Coats for Kids has also drawn support from more than 456 organizations acting as collection partners, and more than 60 distribution partners, comprised mostly of social service agencies, such as Salvation Army, Wish Project, and Community Giving Tree, to name only a few.
If you would like to make a contribution, donate a coat, or find additional information, visit www.antons.com/cfk or via Facebook: www.facebook.com/coatsforkids.
In Burlington, there is an Anton’s Cleaners with a Coats for Kids collection at 47 Winn St.