Community leaders zip up collaborative coat drive

By: Eric Czarnik, Kara Szymanski | C&G Newspapers | Published November 23, 2018

 Boxes of clothing are on display at Antolin Shelby in Shelby Township. Antolin Coats for Kids is a new charity drive formed by a partnership among Antolin Shelby, Utica Community Schools, and the communities of Sterling Heights, Shelby Township and Utica.

Boxes of clothing are on display at Antolin Shelby in Shelby Township. Antolin Coats for Kids is a new charity drive formed by a partnership among Antolin Shelby, Utica Community Schools, and the communities of Sterling Heights, Shelby Township and Utica.

Photo by Eric Czarnik

STERLING HEIGHTS/SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — Early wintry weather requires a response, and city, school and business leaders recently convened to keep families warm with a holiday clothing drive.

Leaders from Sterling Heights, Shelby Township, Utica and Utica Community Schools held a Nov. 19 press conference to kick off a public-private partnership to collect as many coats and articles of winter clothing as possible for charity.

The leaders’ press conference occurred at automotive supplier Grupo Antolin’s Shelby Township location, as organizers said the initial idea came from the business’s management.

The charity drive, known as Antolin Coats for Kids, is collecting new children’s coats, gloves and hats of various sizes for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade.

During the press conference, Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said he was excited about doing something big in the community.

“We talked about collecting some coats,” he said. “Here we are, three or four days later, with a very nicely packaged professional program that is going to help out hundreds of kids in our community. … When you talk about the power of one, this is what you call a team right here.”

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor said his city was happy to pitch in and help with the charity drive. He added that he hopes it will turn into a regular yearly campaign.

“What I’m going to do, personally … I’m just going to buy a coat, just like I was buying a coat for my three kids, and take it and drop it off,” Taylor said. “I encourage anybody who has the ability to do that. I know ... this is in the holiday season. Your budget’s getting stretched pretty thin, but if you can give, I encourage you to do it.”

According to the organizers, Antolin Shelby will pick up the collected winter clothing at the drop-off sites and then will give the items to UCS, which will distribute them to families in need. UCS Superintendent Christine Johns said this initiative is about a community coming together on behalf of children.

“Today we return to our holiday season and I think on one of the coldest days in Michigan this year. What a great way to provide warmth for children,”  she said.

Joe McCluskey, the general manager of Antolin Shelby, said he is proud to be a sponsor of this event.

“Hopefully, we set the bar very high this year and we continue that,” he said.

Outside of the press conference, Utica Mayor Thom Dionne said his city is glad to be part of Coats for Kids. His city’s two drop-off locations are Utica City Hall’s main lobby and Dave & Buster’s of Utica.

“Thanks to our continued community partnership with D&B’s, they are offering anyone who brings a new coat to their Utica location an unlimited arcade game pass for that day,” he said. “One new coat equals one arcade pass.”

Dionne, who is also a Grosse Pointe Farms public safety officer, said his family will be among those who will be donating coats to the charity drive.

“Our kids have expressed that they would be happy to receive less under the tree this year so that someone else may benefit (from) the warmth of a coat,” he said.

“During my years as a PSO, I have encountered many folks that are less fortunate and have seen firsthand the hardships that range from single-parent homes, working folks that have lost their jobs and even homeless families. There is a real need in our community. You will never know who will receive your generous donation, but know that it will be put to the very best use.”

Stathakis said he was especially proud of how the three communities teamed up with UCS and Antolin Shelby.

“With the five of us working together, I know that this will be a very successful event and will help out many, many students,” Stathakis said.

The Antolin Coats for Kids winter clothing drive will take place from now until Jan. 4 at participating drop-off centers.

According to organizers, Shelby Township drop-off locations include Antolin Shelby, Township Hall, the Police Department, the library, the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center and the Department of Public Works building.

In Sterling Heights, donors may drop off new coats, gloves or hats during normal business hours at City Hall, the public library, the Police Department, the Department of Works building, Fire Station No. 5 and the Parks and Recreation building. In addition, the Police Department is a 24-hour drop-off site. For Sterling Heights addresses and further information, visit www.sterling-heights.net or call (586) 446-2470.