The program, held from Dec. 3 through Jan. 4, sought coats, gloves, caps, sweaters and other warm clothing for local charities. The Real Racine Visitor Center and the Waterford Area Chamber of Commerce were among more than 80 donation sites throughout the state.
Winter wear received in the local drive went to:
- Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization (HALO), providing emergency food, clothing and shelter to homeless individuals and families in Racine County.
- Advancing Family Assets, a Racine Area United Way initiative that currently assists 50 local families in achieving stability and success.
- Thread by Thread, a clothing ministry of Bethania Lutheran Church, Racine.
- Burlington Transitional Living Center, an agency that provides temporary assistance to people in need of shelter and living essentials.
"The response was absolutely phenomenal. The clothing items just poured in every day," says Dave Blank, Real Racine CEO. "It demonstrates the wonderful generosity among the people in this community."
Local residents donated 185 pairs of mittens and gloves plus dozens of caps and scarves to last year's initial mitten drive. In the broader 2012-13 campaign, the donation tally included 181 hats, 91 pairs of mittens and gloves and 76 coats.
Statewide, a grand total of 17,155 winter clothing items were collected at more than 70 locations. That amount was more than five times what was collected during last year's campaign.
The winter clothing drive originated in 2011 after Michigan tourism officials objected when Travel Wisconsin used the image of a Wisconsin-shaped mitten in its winter advertising materials. The Michigan representatives claimed that their state better represents a mitten shape than Wisconsin.
Travel offices in both states turned the controversy attention into a mitten drive for people in need. The campaign is becoming an annual tradition.