Two organizations are appealing to the public for their assistance. They are asking people to donate their old coats and cold weather gear to help those who need it most. It's the time of year for giving, but also time for bundling up in a good coat. Two local organizations are making sure that even those without stay warm. James Bates, a volunteer for Operation Homeless Hope, says, "Our focus is the homeless, those with the most need. They don't have many resources. Their things get wet and ruined they need to replenish those." Operation Homeless Hope collects and distributes warm weather gear to homeless camps, everything from coats to sleeping bags. Bates also says, "Those types of things are really needed right now, so we can get them to the homeless as temperatures drop, and have a stock so next time they drop, we have gear to give out." Another effort that has warmed the Coast for decades is found at Edgewater cleaners in west Biloxi. David Blaine, the owner of Edgewater Cleaners, says, "Basically anybody that needs a coat, we're here to fill that need." This year, Blaine's laundromat collected around 2,500 coats. They clean them and hand them out to people who need them. The local effort even reached victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York. Blaine also says, "You can imagine having a hurricane in the winter time, when there’s no heat, no electricity, and I thought how great that we were able to give back and help another part of the country the way we were helped after Hurricane Katrina."
Edgewater Cleaners distributes the coats through organizations like the Salvation Army. The entire Blaine family has been touched by the experience. Matthew Blaine of Edgewater Cleaners says, "I can remember one particular lady, she didn't even ask for a coat for herself, but asked for one for her children." Days later, the woman returned and requested a coat for her husband. The Blaines made sure the selfless woman, who was then living in her car, left with warm gear for herself as well. Years later, she returned. Matthew also says, "She actually came back and donated the coats that she got because her circumstances had changed for the better." Both Edgewater cleaners and Operation Homeless Hope are dedicated to making the Coast a warmer place for everyone. Matthew also says, "We definitely believe, as a family, God has blessed us, so we want to bless others and give back to the community." The Blaine family thanks the Coast for keeping their coat drive strong for over 20 years.