The coat drive for military families conducted by the Hinesville chapter of Operation Homefront Georgia ends Friday. It began Oct. 1. More than 150 adult and children’s coats will be given to needy military families Saturday, Nov. 3, according to local chapter Director Joseph Anthony.
Operation Homefront, a national organization founded in 2002, is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. The Hinesville chapter Anthony and his wife Christina operate works through the state office in Atlanta. The Hinesville chapter has been operating for about a year.
“Christina has been helping soldiers and their families for four or five years,” he said. “We provide emergency financial and other assistance to service members and wounded warriors. We help when the family budget just can’t be stretched any further. We help active-duty service members of all branches, as well as the Reserve and National Guard. We have also helped veterans.”
Anthony emphasized that when Operation Homefront helps a service member by paying a bill, the organization makes the payment directly to the creditor or utility service.
He said the most common assistance his chapter provides is food, but it also provides diapers and baby clothes.
“We’ve been running a coat drive this month,” he said. “The drive ends Friday, and we’ll give the coats away next Saturday from 9 a.m.-noon. I want people to understand, though, that just because the coat drive ends, they can still donate coats, nonperishable foods, toys or other family items.”
He said his chapter soon will begin offering couponing classes to help struggling military families stretch their family food budgets. He said the only thing he asks those making a donation is to ensure the coats they’re giving away are clean and serviceable, that food is nonperishable and toys are clean and safe. Baby products must be new and donated before their expiration dates.
Everyone making a donation will receive a donation receipt for tax purposes, he said. He reiterated there is no charge for financial or other assistance provided to service members and their families because the money or item given to these families was first donated to his organization.
“We accept donations year-round — clothes, food, toys, money,” he said. “We try to give away whatever we’re given as quickly as possible because we’re limited for storage space here.”
His office actually is a house. There’s a play room for young children that includes cribs and toys, a waiting room, several rooms filled with clothes, shoes, diapers and other items, a small pantry and two small offices.
Thursday morning, as volunteer Sonia Heard and Anthony prepared to sort through piles and racks of coats, separating the garments by size and gender, his wife was working with a “case” in her office. She was helping a young military spouse.
Anthony said there is an application process for assistance that includes establishing the military connection and demonstrating financial need.
The Hinesville chapter of Operation Homefront Georgia is at 400 N. Main St., between the traffic circle on Memorial Drive and Gen. Stewart Way.
Anyone interested in making a donation or who needs assistance can call Anthony at 877-1340.