Local youth launches annual coat drive for those in need

November 04, 2005|By TIFFANY ARNOLD


Michael Rosenthal and his friend, Emma Kirkner, were stuck inside on a cold winter's day three years ago when they came up with an idea that has resulted in warmer winter days for others.

On that day, the pair of 10-year-olds decided they should be collecting coats for people who needed them, Michael said.

The "great idea" has become an annual undertaking, he said.

Michael is about to make his rounds again, but Emma will not participate in this year's drive because she recently moved out of the area.

The coat drive starts at the end of November, Michael said. This year, he plans to visit several neighborhoods, including Cedar Hills, Brightwood Acres East and Black Rock Estates. More stops could be added, he said.


He's also taking donations at his school, St. Mary Catholic School in Hagerstown.

Bags full of coats are taken to Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown. They come just in time for the holidays, said Violet Carlson, head of the church's clothing bank.

"Last year, he had all these coats," Carlson said. "It was in the middle of winter and we were getting low. There were just bags and bags of them."

Carlson said the church receives large donations from clothing stores and social groups, but she said she's never seen a child launch such a large-scale effort. She said the church appreciated getting the coats, especially the children's coats.

Michael and Emma came up with the idea for the drive one day when they were playing inside Emma's house. It was really cold that winter, and the two didn't want to be outside, Michael said.

They decided if it was too cold for them, it must be worse for homeless people.

"They're somebody's brother or sister or son," Michael said. "I don't want them to die because of coldness. I'm fortunate to have a coat and stuff, and I think they should have that, too."

After making and distributing fliers, the two would spend their Saturdays going house to house collecting old coats. Sometimes the process took days, said Eric Rosenthal, Michael's father.

Last year, they collected so many bags of clothes that there was barely any room for Michael in his father's SUV.

"He let me ride in the back with all the bags," Michael said. "It was so much fun."

Michael said he hopes to continue the coat drive to spread cheer during the holidays.

"The kids, they like to play with toys, but they don't need them to survive," Michael said. "They needed coats so that they don't freeze."

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