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Washington Public Library giving out free coats, mitten tree collection to begin soon

Union photo by Gretchen Teske

Racks full of coats can be found in the basement of the Washington Public Library and are available for free to any community member in need as part of the library’s Warm up Washington initiative.
Union photo by Gretchen Teske Racks full of coats can be found in the basement of the Washington Public Library and are available for free to any community member in need as part of the library’s Warm up Washington initiative.
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WASHINGTON — Hats, mittens and coats are available at the Washington Public Library as part of the fourth annual Warm Up Washington initiative.

Librarian Jolisa Weidner, Family Services Librarian, said the library started the project years before and gave all collected items to KCRG which were then distributed to various counties. After recognizing a need in the local area, library staff decided to start a collection of their own.

Donations are collected at the Washington YMCA and Ann Williams Farm Bureau Financial Services and brought to the library. She said on average the library collects about 150 coats ever year for infants through adults. All coats, hats, mittens and scarves are available for free to anyone in need.

Weidner said the whole goal is to get people warm before the holidays because taking care of people is just the Washington way.

“There’s a need in the community and its important to take care of the people we live with in Washington,” she said.

Coats will be available until Nov. 12 or until supplies run out. On Nov. 18, the library will bring back a tradition it has upheld for more than 12 years: the mitten tree.

LeAnn Kunz, technical services librarian, said the project was born from the brains of the members of the Sticks and Strings, a group who meet weekly to engage in crocheting and knitting. She said it started with group members bringing in hand made mittens and gloves but soon grew to include purchased mittens, gloves, hats and scarves.

She said about 200 items are brought in every year for babies through adults. The mitten tree will conclude on Dec. 13 and the donations will be given to multiple entities such as HACAP and the Washington Police Department to be distributed.

Kunz said hats are always in abundance but mittens, socks and gloves are always needed in excess. She encourages community members to begin bringing in items to fill up the tree because it’s a simple way to show others how much the community cares.

“We all know how cold it is on a really cold and bitter winter day and the thought of going out in that is the worst feeling ever. We want people to feel a sense that people care about them and want to help them out,” she said.