Valhalla Pure Outfitters’ owner Sam Baio with the donations bins outside his store for Coats for the Koots. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Valhalla Pure Outfitters’ owner Sam Baio with the donations bins outside his store for Coats for the Koots. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Coats for the Koots hits year 10

Donations of warm coats can be made until the end of November

A few Novembers into his annual project Coats for the Koots, Sam Baio realized that it isn’t just people living on the street who need a free winter coat.

“It’s people that are actually working class, and just can’t afford a good coat. I mean, things are expensive. This is families, young families, trying to make ends meet and put a coat on every kid.”

This is the 10th year of Valhalla Pure Outfitters’ Coats for the Koots, and owner Baio is just as committed as he was the first time around.

He likes the fact that the donated coats are coming from locals and going to locals, not to a faceless national-level charity.

Anyone with a good quality winter coat can donate it by tossing it into the bin in front of Valhalla Pure at 626 Baker St. throughout the month of November. Every year the project gets 300-400 donated coats, which the store then distributes to ANKORS, Nelson CARES and the West Kootenay Women’s Centre.

Until the pandemic shut it down, the main outlet for the donated coats was Community Connect Day, run by Nelson CARES. It was a one-day marketplace of free services, goods, resources and information for any person or family in the community struggling to makes ends meet.

It was at Community Connect that Baio realized the broad demographic of people who need coats.

”A lot of people would just put their heads down and actually feel ashamed. One thing I learned is who in the community actually needs these. And it was more than what I suspected.”

Baio says all of his Valhalla Pure staff members are involved with the project in some way with advertising, marketing, social media, or looking after donations at the store.

The coats need to be wearable.

“Warm, in good shape, freshly laundered,” says Baio. “They’re going to go right onto people’s backs.”

He also has some advice for hoarders.

“Dig deep in your closet. If you haven’t worn a jacket, why hoard the thing? Let’s be minimalist here with our closets.”

He says he believes Coats for the Koots has a great relationship with the community because “they’ll call every year right around November and be like, ‘Hey, you guys doing the coat drive again?’”

READ MORE:

Over 120 people to lend a hand at Community Connect

• Coats from the Koots: ‘We could feel the love’



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

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