A free coat rack in Charleston spreads warmth in all sizes

A free-coat rack in Charleston is providing free warmth to anyone who needs a coat this winter.

It’s also an easy way for people to donate gently used coats.

The “give and take” coat rack is located at the United Way of Central West Virginia, and at least 30 people have already taken a winter coat in the past two weeks, according to Executive Director Margaret O'Neal.

“The other day we saw a little boy get out of the car and pick out a coat,” O'Neal said. “Everybody should have an opportunity to stay warm.”

The gently used coats will remain in front of the United Way office through at least January, except during rain.

O'Neal said the nonprofit was inspired to put up the coat rack, which includes adult and children sizes, after seeing the idea on Facebook.

“It reminded us that people may not ask,” she said.

She added the free kids’ coats can be especially helpful to the region’s many grandparents who are raising grandchildren.

“We have seniors in our community who really struggle to ask for help,” O'Neal said. “If they get handed two or three children they weren’t expecting and hadn’t budgeted for, they know they can come here and get a coat for their grandchildren. And, they don’t even have to talk to someone if they don’t want to.”

Those wishing to drop off a gently used coat in any size can take it inside the United Way or simply hang it outside on the available hangers.

The United Way of Central West Virginia is located at 1 United Way Square, at the corner of Court and Smith streets.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong name for the executive director of the United Way of Central West Virginia. Her name is Margaret O'Neal.

Amelia Ferrell Knisely is a corps member with

Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth

Project. Reach her at amelia.knisely@wvgazettemail.com,

304-348-4886 or follow @ameliaknisely on Twitter.

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