Baby, it’s cold outside


Karen McDaniel, Writer

It’s the season of giving, which lines up with the frigid winters of Vermont. As always, there are many people in need of warm outer clothing this time of year, and most people are guilty of keeping some that are no longer used.

In order to remedy this issue, two coat drives were held at BFA this year.

Interact Club, led by guidance counselor Stephanie Hodgeman and the St. Albans Rotary, holds the BFA Cares coat drive annually around Thanksgiving.

“We started the [Interact] club two years ago and our mission is to teach students social involvement, community involvement. We’re not a community service club because we think the words ‘community service’ sound like we have more power [over] the people we’re helping. We are interacting with the community to make it a better place,” Hodgeman said.  

Their first coat drive was held last year and was proposed by the students. According to a schoolwide email sent by Hodgeman, this year’s goal was to collect double the amount of coats collected last year, and it far succeeded that amount.

“Last year we raised 200 coats, and this year [we raised] 650 coats,” Hodgeman said.

The coats reach people in need all over Saint Albans.

“The coats were delivered to the food shelf where they are being outsourced to Martha’s Kitchen and the Samaritan House,” Hodgeman said.  

Hodgeman hopes that more students will come forward with their ideas with how to further improve the community.

“What happens with Interact is a student comes to me and says there’s a need in the community and they want to direct a project, and then we have the workforce, the student population, to help support the event. So if people have ideas or thoughts on projects they’d like to do, let me know and we’ll make it happen together,” Hodgeman said.

Not only did Interact Club hold a coat drive at BFA, but so did Operation Happiness. Biology and ecology teacher Tom Koldys was helping to run the donations here at the school.

“So [Operation Happiness] is sort of an offshoot division of the United Way, and this group in particular supports Franklin and Grand Isle counties. It helps make the holidays specifically a little more cheerful for those in need. They do a range of things from food to clothing to toys to help people have something for whatever it is they celebrate this time of year,” Koldys said.

According to Alison Defisher from United Way, Operation Happiness’ mission is to help out those in need during the holidays with not just clothes and coats.

“While for others, the holidays are filled with merriment, many in our community are faced with no food for a holiday meal, no coats or mittens for the cold weather, and no presents to bring joy to their children’s faces,” Defisher said.

Multiple drop spots can be found throughout the two counties, so everyone has a chance to donate.

“There are red barrels located around Franklin and Grand Isle counties, you can call 802-861-7812 for information on where to drop off donations, and they have a wishlist online,” Koldys said.

The donations are brought to an event for people to go and receive them.

“I bring [the donations] to Donna Corrigan at Operation Happiness. They are made available to people on Saturday, Dec. 15th. My understanding is that there’s a registration you have to undergo if you’re looking to receive the donations. You have to qualify to be a recipient,” Koldys said.

Koldys is grateful for those who are willing to help out in any way they can during this holiday season.

“Even just being the go-between in this and not having much of a direct role in it, I always appreciate how willing people are in our community, BFA and larger, to support each other, give what they can, and help out,” Koldys said.