ALMOST 600 coats have been donated to the fifth winter coat and blanket drive.
It’s an overwhelming response which has warmed the heart of Echuca Moama Community Projects co-ordinator Julie Langdon Sands.
The donation means hundreds of people will not have to suffer this winter.
‘‘Whether you are doing it tough living in your car, freezing in a caravan, couch surfing at a mates or turning off the heater at night to save a dollar, we welcome you to come and benefit from the generosity of your neighbours,’’ Ms Sands said.
‘‘This year we have more coats donated than any other year.
‘‘Counting what we’ve already given away, we’ve had between 50-80 blankets and there’s dozens and dozens of scarves and beanies.
‘‘Every year I keep thinking people are going to stop donating and people are going to stop coming but every year it just seems to get bigger and bigger.’’
About 30-40 coats and 20 blankets were collected by people in need during the first hour of the coat drive being opened on Thursday, last week.
‘‘I am mindful of people struggling at winter because it’s just so bitterly cold and the cost of heating is atrocious,’’ Ms Sands said.
‘‘I imagine people turning their heaters off at night, trying to save a dollar and then of course it’s freezing.
‘‘There’s people walking around without jumpers and there must be a reason why ... maybe they’re struggling to make ends meet. There’s just a need out there and I never realised what a need there was.’’
Ms Sands thanked Echuca Specialist School students for helping set up distribution days.
‘‘We are distributing to the community each Thursday during June (at the St Mary’s Parish Hall, next to Aldi from 10am-2pm),’’ she said.
‘‘We continue to receive support including from Beechworth Bakery and the Happy Hookers Golf Team.
‘‘We will still accept donations of winter warmness right up until the end of June at our drop off locations — the Riverine Herald, Echuca library, Echuca 208 Central School, Echuca Moama Family Medical Practice and Echuca Neighbourhood House.’’