By BRIAN GRAVES
Temperatures in the teens seemed a perfect motivator as Sheriff Eric Watson began his annual “Coats for the Cold” drive early Friday morning.
The kickoff of this year’s event was held at Chick-fil-A on Keith Street and was done in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the BCSO’s Litter program, which operates with grants from the state agency.
Watson started the drive almost 18 years, ago after seeing some children playing in the cold weather without coats.
“I was a deputy on patrol on the East Side patrolling Ocoee Village Apartments and I noticed two kids playing outside on the playground at the time,” Watson recalled. “I approached the kids and asked them where their jackets were.”
The children told him they had none, so he then went to their parents to ask if he could help them obtain some warm clothing.
“I could tell the family was underprivileged and the parents didn’t have much of a
concern for their kids,” Watson said. “We went to Walmart and bought them jackets.”
That practice is continuing as current deputies have collected more than $1,400 this year to purchase new coats and jackets to be distributed as part of the drive.
Over the years, the drive has provided more than 10,000 coats and jackets to both children and adults in need.
He noted the drive works closely with the school systems — and Head Start and other such organizations — to help identify children who may be in need of cold-weather attire.
“Thanks to the good people of this community, we’ve been able to help a lot of people stay a little warmer though the cold months,” Watson said.
The drive continues through the end of the month, and those with unwanted new or gently worn coats and jackets can drop them off at Chick-fil-A on Keith Street; any Bradley County BB&T banking location; The Village Tire Center at 232 3rd St. S.W.; Bradley County Trustee Mike Smith’s office at 1701 Keith St.; Family Tire at 215 W. Inman St.; Logan-Thompson Law Office at 30 2nd St. N.W.; and the BCSO.
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