FULTON, NY – It’s been a long, brutally cold winter but fortunately the efforts of two Fulton business owners are making it bit warmer.
Joe Cortini of Cortini’s Shoe Store and Jeanne McManus of Ontario Cleaners have been collecting and distributing winter coats, hats and mittens to area youth and children in need of warm outerwear.
An idea that started with the donation of few coats has grown in to a project that has collected more than 300 winter coats.
“This past fall when my son was trying on his winter coats I noticed that with hand-me-downs and gifts he had received he had nine coats. I thought he doesn’t need that many coats so I decided to donate several of them. That’s when idea came to me. Why just seven coats…why not donate 70! I put out a call on my facebook page to see if anyone else had coats they would like to donate and suddenly I had more than 200 coats to deal with, many of which were brand new,” explained Cortini.
While he handled any zipper or minor repairs that the coats may be in need of he realized that preparing that many coats for distribution and getting them to those in need would require some help.
That’s when he reached out to Jeanne McManus at Ontario Cleaners.
“Jeanne was great. She really did all the work. She and her mom cleaned and bagged every coat,” Cortini said.
As she was preparing the coats for distribution McManus thought the coats were a great idea but perhaps we can do more.
“My mom and I thought wouldn’t it be nice if could make sure that every coat would also have a matching hat and mittens. We began purchasing some and thanks to donations we received from family members, my customers, and Joe’s customers were able to do it,” said McManus.
To date, Cortini said that they have donated more than a 100 coats to area schools and are currently working with local human service agencies to distribute the rest.
One of those agencies is Oswego County Opportunities.
Eric Bresee, director of OCO Crisis & Development Services was pleased that he would be involved with the coat distribution.
“Many of the youth and families that we serve with our Crisis and Development programs will benefit greatly from this very thoughtful and generous donation. They have been very grateful and are happy to receive the coats, hats and mittens. The need is great and we are fortunate that Joe and Jeanne thought of us,” said Bresee.
Cortini added that any local human services agencies that would like to be a part of the coat distribution should contact him at 593-8914.
“I know I speak for Jeanne as well when I say that we are humbled to be able to a little something for our youth and children. No one should be cold due to a lack of winter outerwear. We extend our sincerest thanks to everyone that donated coats, hats and mittens to this project and to agencies such as OCO that are making sure that the coats are going to those in the most need,” said Cortini.