Though Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, winter isn’t quite over yet. For those who found themselves ill-prepared for the last few days of freezing cold, there is hope in Athens County.

Coats, hats, gloves, socks and scarves are all essentials to survive cold winter days. Some residents may not have the resources to stay warm during bitter cold days, but there are plenty of opportunities to find affordable accessories during the season.

Some might have noticed a clothesline with gloves, hats and scarves in front of First Presbyterian Church, 2 N. Court St., while walking Uptown lately. The Clothesline Ministry started this past December, Rev. Rob Martin, pastor at First Presbyterian church, said.

“We started (the Clothesline Ministry) this winter, back in December,” Martin said. “We started collecting hats, gloves and scarves.”

The idea came from a couple places, Martin explained. The church noticed that some international students weren’t prepared for the Ohio winter. They also noticed that a lot of people were walking around without hats and gloves. 

“(The clothesline) is a good way to get them (the) clothing items they need to stay warm,” Martin said.

Martin has noticed the clothesline has been a success. The clothesline has been refilled six times now and over 100 items have been donated. Some items donated have been purchased, but others were handmade knit and crochet creations from congregation members. The church plans on continuing the program.

“I know it’s been warming up the last couple days but winter isn’t over,” Martin said.

Another spot for free winter clothes is the Salvation Army of Athens and Meigs Counties, 70 N. Plains Road, Suite 122, The Plains. All clothing is free for those in need, Darci Shields, food pantry coordinator at the Salvation Army of Athens and Meigs Counties, said. 

“For the month of January alone, we distributed 1,053 clothing items,” Shields said.

That number is about average, but likely isn’t acutely accurate, Shields explained. It’s up to those who get the donations to document what they take.

Though winter is only halfway over, Shields said the Salvation Army is starting to run low on winter clothes.

“We especially need mens and boys (clothes),” Shields said. “We saw quite an influx of donations once the Joe Burrow story hit, but we haven’t had a whole lot of donations here lately.”

Once the seasons change, the Salvation Army usually sees an uptick in winter clothing donations. But not all clothing can be accepted. 

“The clothing we accent needs to be clean and bug-free,” Shields said. “If we get stuff that's infected, we just have to pitch it. We don't have the ability to launder. (Items need to be) brought in good shape and clean.” 

The Salvation Army also offers clothing vouchers, which can be used at local thrift shops such as Goodwill. Cases like these are often prompted by a need for larger-sized clothing such as coats, Shields said.

Goodwill, 175 Columbus Rd., is a good option for winter clothing, Laura Bobo, protective services program supervisor at Athens County Children's Service, said. Other thrift stores, like New-To-You Thrift Shoppe, 90 Columbus Road, and Mrs. K’s Variety Store, 8 High St., Glouster, work as well.

Bobo also noted that most elementary and middle schools in Athens County have “resource rooms,” where students can find spare clothing, hats and more. Children’s Service also has five school outreach workers who work to help students find what they need, too. 

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