TribLIVE – The winter coat drive has been a long tradition of the South Hills Interfaith Movement with as many as 1,400 coats donated a year.
But Jim Guffey, executive director of SHIM, said the organization is taking a look at how it can improve upon the services it offers.
“The South Hills community is wonderful with supporting us. We get a great response with the coat drive,” Guffey said.
One challenge with the winter coats is not matching sizes for those in need. Another challenge was impact on inventory. Guffey said SHIM also provides food and other clothing to those in need, but having more than 1,000 coats at the Bethel Park facility at 5301 Park Ave. was affecting other operations.
“Is there a better way to do it, and who can do this?” Guffey said.
SHIM officials reached out to Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania to set up a pilot partnership with the coat drive.
“They have many convenient locations in the South Hills and better service hours,” Guffey said. “We can offer a better customer experience.”
Bob Stape, chief operating officer for Goodwill Southwestern Pennsylvania, said his agency is excited about the partnership.
“It seems like it’s going to be a win-win,” Stape said.
Winter coats are being collected at the SHIM facility in Bethel Park. Guffey said more than 1,200 coats have been collected. Based on the amount, SHIM will receive gift cards for families to use at any Goodwill store.
“They will have better selection opportunities,” Guffey said. “It doesn’t have to be a coat, it could be other winter apparel.”
About 1,400 gift cards of $5 or $10 have been given to families in need. The value of the cards total $10,500.
Stape said customers can take comfort in using the gift card because no one can tell where it was issued.
Stape said Goodwill works with a number of nonprofits with a voucher program, but the program with SHIM is more involved.
“We certainly would entertain other nonprofits that might have similar needs,” Stape said.
Guffey said coats can be donated at any time and that SHIM is still offering its clothing closet to help people in need.
Guffey said SHIM and Goodwill officials will review how the coat program went to determine if it will continue.
Story by Jim Spezialetti