MUSCATINE, Iowa—During the coldest days of the polar vortex last year, Laura Darting knew she had to do something to help those in need. Darting started a coat donation program where anyone could drop off a coat they no longer needed on a rack in front of her studio and anyone in need could come pick one up, no questions asked. The program proved immensely popular, providing at least 150 coats to people who needed them, including ones taken to children by caseworkers and teachers.
As this winter turned bitter, Darting brought the program back once again, joining forces with Dan Oien of First Choice Real Estate in Wilton. Together, the two have expanded the number of locations that accept and provide coats. They have also added an incentive to help families instill the value of sharing with the community in their young children.
Each family that donates a coat to the drive will receive a copy of Dolly Parton’s book “Coat of Many Colors,” as long as supplies last. Like the song of the same name, “Coat of Many Colors” tells the story of Parton’s mother making her a coat out of colorful fabric scraps which she took great pride in, even though others made fun of it. Through donating to the coat drive and reading the book, Darting hopes kids will learn at an early age the importance of helping others. “What I like to see is the kids learning a great message of compassion and humility,” she shared.
This year, Darting and Oien, as well as the staff of Tiny’s Tunes welcome coat donations and look forward to helping keep the community warm this winter. If you would like to drop off a gently used winter coat, or any gently used winter gear, or warm socks in a shopping bag, you may do so at Darting’s studio (124 East 2nd Street, Muscatine), First Choice Real Estate (115 West 4th Street, Wilton), or Tiny’s Tunes (209 East 2nd Street, Muscatine). If you need a coat, you may also visit any one of these locations to pick one up at any time. Darting plans to keep the program running so long as the coats keep coming in and will donate any leftover coats or winter wear to an organization that can put them to good use at the end of the winter. “I try to do it for as long as I can, especially during these really cold months,” she added.
With low temperatures in the forecast for the foreseeable future, the organizers behind the Coat of Many Colors Drive look forward to helping many in need this winter. “I think I can speak for all of us that it feels good to give back to the community,” said Darting. By donating what you can and taking what you need, you and your family can help this giving tradition continue to serve Muscatine County and spread the warmth of kindness during these frigid winter months.