This marks the 13th year for the initiative, which is designed to help families in need within his district of Polk, Meigs and Bradley counties.
“I truly believe that providing a child with a coat during these cold months will positively impact their self-esteem and self-worth,” Watson said.
“We are taught to care for those who are in need, especially our children. I believe the ‘Coats for the Cold’ program is a great way for our community to come together for a great cause.”
He added, “The experts agree this is a worthwhile initiative. When kids are loved, they do better. When their basic needs are met, they excel at life.”
The Coats for the Cold program has been successful over the last decade, Watson noted. In the last 13 years, the program has distributed more than 9,800 coats to children.
Its success has been attributed to the outpouring of support from the public, churches and civic groups who team with the program each year.
Watson is excited to announce a new corporate partner that is joining the program.
"This is a community effort and I believe we all can play a part in making it a success,” Watson said.
“That is why I am so proud to announce United Way is joining our cause and offering their location as a drop-off point. I am thankful that United Way is opening their doors and helping to spread the word about this great cause.”
A United Way representative said the agency is eager to assist with the program.
"We are excited and honored that state Rep. Eric Watson has invited us to be part of this community coat drive,” said United Way’s Sarah Haratine. “This is a great annual tradition that is meeting an important need in our community."
Watson conceived of the idea after observing several children playing outdoors in 40-degree weather without coats.
He approached their parents and asked why the children were not adequately clothed and learned the families simply lacked the financial resources necessary to purchase warm winter coats for each member of the family.
Individuals or groups wishing to participate should deliver their new or used good-quality winter coats to one of these drop-off sites: BB&T (any Bradley County locations); United Way, 85 Ocoee St. SE; Village Tire Center, 232 Third St. S.W.; Bradley County Trustee Mike Smith’s office in the Bradley County Courthouse; Family Tire, 215 Inman St. West; Logan-Thompson, 30 2nd St. N.W.; and Watson’s office, 2161 APD 40.