BFA’s Coat Drive by Interact

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A large number of donated coats in Interact’s donation bin. Photo credit: Stephanie Hodgeman

Brooke Holland, Writer

BFA’s Interact club recently hosted a coat drive for the month of Nov. to assist the community members who cannot afford winter attire. Just how many coats did they collect? 

According to Interact member Lydia Hodgeman (‘22), the club collected over a thousand winter coats this year. 

Interact hosts multiple events within the community throughout the year for those in need, such as the coat, cereal and blood drive. The coat drive, specifically, has been at BFA for around five years, each year receiving more donations. 

“[Interact club is] through rotary, and we basically just find things in the community [to do for] people in need and try to help them out,” Hodgeman (‘22) said. 

Bins, where jackets could be donated, were placed not only throughout the school but also at Hannaford located here in St. Albans and at the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery (Co-op). 

“Traditionally, BFA and the [Collins Perley Complex] were great sources for coats, [but] that was difficult this year because of [COVID-19] restrictions. Hannaford… was a huge help for the coats, we… got hundreds and hundreds of coats from Hannaford and from the Co-op Creamery,” BFA guidance counselor and Interact advisor Stephanie Hodgeman said. 

According to Stephanie Hodgeman, Leon Berthiaume, CEO of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, contributed 200 winter coats to Interact as well as a generous benefaction. 

To put in perspective how successful this year’s drive has been, at the end of 2019’s coat drive approximately 800 winter jackets were collected.

Each coat that is collected from the drive is then donated to Franklin/Grand Isle Community Action (CVOEO). Community Action, located in St. Albans, is the lead social service agency that distributes the coats through a giveaway. In past years, this event originally started with just coats. Since people may need all types of winter attire, such as boots and gloves, those items are also donated. 

“[Community Action]… set up the displays outside [their location], so that people can safely choose a coat or mittens,” Stephanie Hodgeman said. 

Interact isn’t centered around the concept of charity work, the core of Interact is showing people that children can make a difference in the community. 

“It’s important for people to know right now during [COVID-19] that kids can make a difference… The volunteers in this country tend to be retired and elderly… so they are a vulnerable population right now… in my mind, it will take the teenagers to fill in… the gaps,” Stephanie Hodgeman said. 

Recently, BFA obtained a $10,000 grant for an outdoor classroom, which will begin construction shortly, since the connector between buildings has been completed. This will become Interact’s next project, aiming for finalization in the spring of 2021.