November 26, 2021

McLean groups assist with clothing, food giveaways

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Volunteers Liz Snyder and Bonnie Barrett fold blankets for the annual Share the Warmth winter clothing giveaway. The McLean Fire Department Auxiliary and the McLean Community Church collect donations year-round, hosting the giveaway the last weekend of October before the temperatures drop.

McLEAN — As the temperature begins to drop, winter coats will once again become a necessity even to check the mail. However, not every family has the money to buy new winter clothes or blankets.

“There are so many families in need in McLean,” volunteer Bonnie Barrett said Saturday at the McLean Fire Department Auxiliary’s annual Share the Warmth clothing giveaway.

The auxiliary club and the McLean Community Church, Church of Christ, hosted clothing and food distributions to prepare families for the cooler season.

“These people come in and they thank us for everything, but I’m just so glad that we can help them with the free giveaway,” Barrett said. The organizations collect donations year-round to offer to people in need and often have more donations than they can share.

The auxiliary’s clothing drive takes place at the end of every October, and the church hosts a free food distribution on the fourth Saturday of every month.

The food is donated from several grocery stores in Tompkins County, a volunteer said.

Garage space in the fire station had a dozen tables covered in clothing for all sizes.

One mother searched for durable, waterproof clothing for her daughter, winter coats and work pants for the parents.

Another mom wove through the aisles of tables, tossing one article of clothing after another onto the growing pile she carried in one arm.

“I was on my way to Cortland, and I drove by and saw this here,” said Freeville resident Penny Cornelius. This was the perfect opportunity to get the winter clothes she needed before the snow flies.

This year, McLean’s Community Council collected more donations than it expected, said auxiliary President Jerry Bernard.

“I’m always taking in donations, whether it’s nightgowns, blankets, towels — anything people have that they want to give us,” Bernard said.

One thing she wants to see more of next year is new underwear — it’s an item of clothing you don’t want to be pre-worn, but everyone is in need of.

“This year we did get a lot of good, usable stuff,” said volunteer Liz Snyder. She and Bernard helped collect the bags of clothing to store in the church. “Sometimes we get down there and we think ‘OK, this is good, this is how much we’ve got,’ and then there are another 20 bags we find to bring over.”

People interested in donating clothing or volunteering at future events can visit the McLean Auxiliary Facebook Page to contact organizers.

“We’ve had people here from all over, even other counties, today,” Barrett said. “It’s been great, and it feels good to know that we can help these people.”