Gear Up For Outdoors Keeps the Spirit Warm

By Wendy Wright

Thirteen years ago, the Spread the Warmth campaign began at Gear Up For Outdoors. An abundance of donated, high quality outerwear needed a home and Shelter House was happy to be the first recipient. This year the annual coat drive started on October 1 and will run until December 20.

Jon Wynn, owner of Gear Up for Outdoors, speaks passionately about the coat drive. “Thunder Bay has a big heart; everyone is so kind and considerate! People have come on board with pleasure for years and that support continues.” Each year the coat drive grows, and participation has spread around the region. People bring coats in, not just for a discount but because there is a caring and organized campaign to donate to. Wynn says some individuals come into the shop and purchase new coats and donate them right back to the coat drive. He also points out that there are people knitting hats and mitts to be given out with the coats and Tbaytel has donated the same.

Over the years, the project has grown, and gets closer to its goal of keeping everyone in the community warm. North of Superior Healthcare Group collects coats at North Shore hospitals, which are then delivered by Courtesy Courier. Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre collects too. There are so many caring hearts around the north keep the spirit warm. One of Wynn’s favourite moments is when two young women came to donate the coats collected at their own elementary school coat drive. They had done the whole thing on their own. With valuable lessons like these being learned at an early age, the campaign will surely be in warm hands and hearts for years to come.

The main recipients of the coats are Shelter House, Grace Place, and Precious Bundles. As the name suggests, Precious Bundles is for children and the donation need is highest for that population. Items are also taken out in the Street Outreach Services (SOS) van, which gets the gear straight to the folks who need it, when and where they need it most. “It’s a lot of work but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” says Wynn.

Gently used and clean coats can be donated to keep the whole community warm this winter. Items can be dropped off at Gear Up For Outdoors at 894 Alloy Place in Thunder Bay. Donors receive a 15% discount on a new coat and are entered in a draw for a $100 Keg Gift Card. Guaranteed warmth will spread to your heart and spirit when you help spread the warmth to those in need.

For further information, visit