As Pati Brigman collected warm winter coats for donation Thursday afternoon at her Coupeville store, she suddenly stopped.
“What about scarves and gloves?” she asked.
After selecting more items, Brigman, owner of Back to the Island, filled two bags — one for a man and one for a woman — with a coat, socks, gloves and scarf.
The donations are among those being gathered by the Coupeville Community Care Team, a program started and developed by the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association.
For five years now, the group has collected donations of not only warm winter clothes but of everyday items like toiletries and household goods for Island County Human Services.
The association is gathering donations now through Tuesday, Dec. 19. Items donated to the county agency are gifted to needy families during the holidays and also used to fill up a supply closet to help clients throughout the year.
“It’s the giving season,” Brigman said. “I’m happy to help.”
Cindy Olsen and Vickie Chambers, both association members who have worked or owned stores in the town’s historic district, started the program after meeting social workers from Human Services who were downtown buying items for their clients out of their own pockets.
Olsen and Chambers “went rogue” for a year, buying things on their own and soliciting donations before officially forming the program and getting the merchant association on board.
The Community Care Team has grown and been successful over the years, so much so that in 2017 Island County recognized its efforts with a Linda Lee Martens Community Health Hero award.
“These are people living in our neighborhood,” Olsen said. “We have stories about five women — five senior citizen women — in our town who are caregiving for their disabled adult kids.
This is when they’re the ones who should be looked after.
“Let’s give them a warm winter coat.”
While the program has reached beyond just the merchant community, there are some merchants who do things like pick up an extra pack of toilet paper when they go tro Costco.
“(Human Services) will individually wrap rolls and give them out,” Chambers said.
One year, someone donated rolls of quarters to help one client to be able to go to the laundromat more often.
“It’s about getting people to recognize what’s around them, who’s around them and getting them to be a part of the community,” Olsen said.
A donation “sleigh” is being set up at the association’s office at 6 NW Coveland St., Suite 101, which is underneath the Balance Bodyworks office.
Items on the Human Services needs list include:
Kids tooth brushes/tooth paste
Grocery store gift cards (Red Apple or Safeway)
Gas gift cards
New socks (men’s crew/womens)**greatly needed
New underwear (men’s and women’s)
Bath towels/wash cloths
Quarters for laundromat
Coffee cards/ fast food gift cards
Adult tooth brushes
Sweat pants and tops/men and women
Razors (male and female)
Large garbage bags
Dog food/cat food/bird food
Adult Depends, size large
n For more information, contact Chambers at coupeillehis toricwaterfrontassoiation@hot mail.com or call 360-222-3696.