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What is One Warm Coat?  

While many of us look at a coat as a mundane piece in our closet that is meant to keep us stylish and cozy, there are plenty of people who don’t own a warm coat when they need it the most. Everyone needs to stay warm and for the last 25 years, hundreds of GS NorCal council staff and Girl Scout Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior and Ambassador Troops have been able to spread warmth and kindness through the One Warm Coat Program.  

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One Warm Coat is a national non-profit organization that works to provide a free, warm coat to those who need them. One Warm Coat supports individuals, groups, companies and organizations across the country by providing the tools and resources needed to hold a successful coat drive. Coats are distributed in the communities where they were collected to children and adults in need, without charge, discrimination, or obligation. One Warm Coat started in San Francisco as a Thanksgiving coat drive, and the idea has spread across the US. Since its inception in 1992, One Warm Coat has given more than six million coats to those in need across the country. 

GSNorCal Office Drives 

Every year, GS NorCal offices and retail stores hold a One Warm Coat drive in the month of November. GS NorCal works with One Warm Coat to host coat drives for multiple non-profit agencies at all participating GS NorCal office and stores.

No one should go cold this winter! Anyone can participate in a One Warm Coat GS NorCal Office Drive by simply going through your closets and pulling out your gently worn, clean outerwear that will keep someone warm—clean coats, sweaters, jackets, sweatshirts, or scarves, warm hats, and mittens. All sizes are welcome. Bring them over to the closest GSNorCal retail store during the month of November and they will be to donated local agencies for distribution in your community!

The One Warm Coat drives are held in the Alameda, Santa Rosa, San Jose, Chico, Eureka and Redding retail stores and council offices. This year, the coat drive ran from November 1–26, and we collected 5,500 coats throughout our council offices and shops! The donations benefitted Santa Maria Urban Ministry, Good News Rescue Mission, Redwood Gospel Mission, City Team San Jose, Redwood Community Action Agency, Covenant House of California, and the families of GSNorCal’s Got Choices program at the Bill Wilson Center

Pro Tip: Did you donate a coat this year? Don’t forget to purchase your One Warm Coat patch at GSNorCal stores and online. Didn’t get to drop off coats this year? The GSNorCal office and retail stores have their annual coat drive every November, so put it on your calendar now!

Black Friday Kick-Off 

KTVU FOX 2’s Annual One Warm Coat Drive kicks off on Black Friday and runs through New Year’s Eve. KTVU’s TV crews & hundreds of GSNorCal Girl Scouts joined together during Thanksgiving weekend to welcome coat donors to drop-off sites in four major Bay area shopping centers. It’s a fun troop service outing and girls collect hundreds of coats every year! This year’s 17th annual KTVY FOX 2’s One Warm Coat drive locations were in Bay Street Emeryville, Santana Row San Jose and Ferry Building, San Francisco. KTVU Television was on hand for interviews and live coverage at select locations. Watch this year’s airing here.

Girl-Led Coat Drives 

Bay Area weather is all over the place, which means there’s never a bad time to have a warm coat in your closet. You and your troop can hold a coat drive of your own at any time of year. One Warm Coat works with you and your troop’s schedule and location to connect your troop to a nonprofit who will get your donations straight to people who need them. One Warm Coat has a really awesome step-by-step instruction page on their website on holding a coat drive. Here’s how to hold your own coat drive: 

  1. Plan your drive. Gather your troop and discuss coat drive dates, drop off locations and select the non-profit agency to donate the collected coats. 
  2. Register your drive. Once you’ve figured out details with your troop, you will register your drive to become an official One Warm Coat Drive Ambassador. 
  3. Promote your drive. Let your community know you’re collecting coats! 
  4. Start your drive. Make a special announcement to your network that your coat drive has started and start collecting coats! 
  5. Celebrate! You’ve done a great thing. Celebrate your end of coat drive by reporting your coat totals on your coat drive page. 
  6. Deliver your coats. At the end of your coat drive, deliver the collected clean, wearable coats to the non-profit agency you selected. 

Every year, hundreds of Girl Scouts join in on the heartwarming tradition to bring their communities together and give to those in need. Whether you hold a coat drive or donate a coat you’re making a difference in distributing warmth and comfort in the lives of children and adults in need. 

What to do next 

  • Visit One Warm Coat to learn more about this program, and how you can help. 
  • Host your own coat drive with these handy instructions.  
  • Learn how to donate your coats and other winter gear.  
  • Want to participate in next year’s One Warm Coat Black Friday kick-off? Keep an eye out for the volunteer sign up link on our Community Service page on our site under the One Warm Coat tab. New confirmed locations and sign up links usually can be found in October.  
  • Looking for a way to expand your Girl Scout experience and give back? Check out our Community Service partnerships!  

Claudia Saenz—Claudia Saenz is the Partnerships Program Manager for Girl Scouts of Northern California, where she develops and supports program partnerships throughout the council. When Claudia is not at the Girl Scouts office in San Jose, she can be found sipping on tea, listening to music and experimenting with baking recipes.