Baby, it's not so cold outside
FORT CARSON, Colo.-Mountain Post community members look through donated coats Dec. 14 at the Special Events Center. About 900 coats were collected for distribution at the event.

FORT CARSON, Colo.-FORT CARSON, Colo.---Hundreds of Fort Carson Family members will be a little warmer this winter thanks to the efforts of the Enlisted Spouses' Charitable Organization.

The organization's first coat drive collected about 900 coats that were distributed to the Fort Carson community Dec. 14 at the Special Events Center, according to Holly Dailey, ESCO adviser.

About 100 coats were collected at drop boxes at locations on post including the commissary, Army Community Service and post exchange and from donations from the Woodmen Valley Chapel, Dailey said.

The remaining 800 coats came from Redistribution Center, Inc., an organization that distributes items donated by retail outlets and community organizations, said Ranya Kelly, the organization's executive director and founder. RCI also delivered 1,600 troop packages to deployed Fort Carson Soldiers, she said.

"All of our volunteers are honored and privileged to help our military Families," she said. "This is our mission and our duty as an organization, as Americans and as parents of Soldiers that have been deployed or are currently deployed."

RCI collected the coats from the surrounding community and local organizations and purchased 200 children's coats for the drive, Kelly said.

"A lot of the coats were brand new; some were 'gently used,' which means there were no holes or stains," Dailey said.

The coats were distributed primarily to Families of junior enlisted Soldiers by volunteers Dailey and Michelle Thurman and ESCO leaders Katrina Barnhart, Carol Ann Mountjoy, Melissa Glasspoole and Kate McNeeley, Dailey said.

As close to Christmas as it was, the free coats might have helped Families put more presents under the tree. Whatever the reason for the drive's success, the line began forming at the SEC before the event even began.

"The line was all down the parking lot," Dailey said. "All we did to advertise was put a flier out. I'm grateful it went so well. We had all these coats and had done so much planning, and I thought, 'What if no one shows up''"

Instead, the large supply didn't meet the demand.

"We opened a little before 2 p.m., and all of the coats were gone by 4-4:30 p.m.," Dailey said. "We stayed until 6 p.m. and took names and phone numbers of people who still needed coats after we ran out, so we could give them coats (Dec. 18). RCI brought 60-75 more, and we collected more in the drop boxes (on post).

"It's all about helping military Families. I can't even describe how it felt. It was an overwhelming blessing to be able to do this. I had tears in my eyes, because people were so grateful. They said it meant so much to them."

Community members suggested ESCO conduct another coat drive in January, and Dailey said that - although the plan was to make it an annual event - there likely would be another one early 2010.

Page last updated Fri January 8th, 2010 at 16:09