With dropping temperatures, warm clothing is a necessity.
Yet, many in the Menomonie area don’t have these items and are in need of winter clothing. United Way of Dunn County is working to fix that.
The Winter Wear Open House held Wednesday at Marketplace Foods in Menomonie provided winter clothing to nearly 400 people. As more people stopped by United Way’s C-3 Center for winter clothing, it was suggested it should hold a open house event, executive director of United Way of Dunn County Ashley DeMuth said.
“As we saw donations increase, and we couldn’t put them all out at one time at our C-3 Center due to space limitations, we decided it’s time to do something — a culmination just for the winter clothing,” DeMuth said.
DeMuth said of the nearly 2,000 people served last year at the C-3 Center, 14 percent reported themselves as homeless. What began as an event for the homeless or those in crisis as grown into a communitywide event. The open house served nearly 250 people last year, and 378 people received winter wear on Wednesday evening.
“This has really spread to anyone that is in need because no one should have to go through the winter weather without having the gear to face the Wisconsin weather,” DeMuth said.
Available at the event were coats, boots, snowpants, hats and gloves. DeMuth said some people scan clearance racks to find donations items, and hand-made items are always some of the first to be picked by those in need.
Drop off locations were held at Marketplace Foods, the Menomonie Public Library and the C-3 Center the month prior to the event. Donations are collected and stored throughout the year for the open house.
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“The community really fuels this event,” DeMuth said. “Essentially everything that is out is new or gently used. We take brand new things, we take the gently used things, and we give them back to the community in a way that is really beneficial.”
This year was the first time the event was held in a new location. Previous open house events were held at the C-3 Center, where space was limited. Through a partnership with Marketplace Foods, United Way was able to hold the event at an open site located at the front of the store.
When Marketplace Foods was acquire by the Coborn family in 2015 the stores were encouraged to be involved with its local United Way, Scott Finstad, store director of the Menomonie Marketplace Foods said. The Cornborn family has been involved with United Way of Central Minnesota since 1967, Finstad added.
“Ashley and her team do an incredible job with these events, and I couldn’t be more proud by being a part of it. It’s always fun to partner with United Way and support this great community,” he said.
For those who are still in need and weren’t able to make the Winter Wear Open House, United Way will have more winter clothing available next week. Distribution times at the C3 Center, 1620 Stout Road, are 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays, but anyone that shows up in need of winter clothing won’t be turned away, DeMuth said.
“We see quite a bit of donations come in after this event, and we encourage the community to continue donating because sometimes this time doesn’t work for someone, or maybe they didn’t have a ride, and transportation is that barrier,” she said.
If an estate is being cleaned out or children’s winter clothing no longer fits, DeMuth encourages donating those items. Businesses can get involved in future events by having donation bins on site.
“We envision this event growing every year, and we’re excited to see that growth because we’re helping fill a need in our community,” DeMuth said.