The Residential Building that Donated 1,200 Coats to Neighbors in Need

Feb 26, 2021

Alicia Bastidas and Jackie Mehmeti never dreamed the coat drive they planned to benefit The Salvation Army would be so successful. Both women work in the leasing office for North Harbor Tower residential building in downtown Chicago and have organized other well-received philanthropic projects for their roughly 1,000 residents.

“We ideally wanted 400-500 [coats] due to how many residents we have,” Alicia said. “We were so surprised to hear it was estimated around 1,200! All of us in the office were shocked.”

The coat drive at North Harbor Tower is one of many sponsored by companies throughout the area to benefit Salvation Army clients in need. Those needs are heightened this winter with the financial effects of COVID-19 still impacting many of our neighbors.

“Similar to having to choose between paying monthly bills or providing Christmas gifts for the family, many households don’t have the luxury to buy new coats,” said Suzie Brashler, volunteer resource manager for The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division. “Coordinating coat collections in a pandemic while many businesses are not meeting in person due to COVID-19 is without a doubt a setback, but this donation from North Harbor Tower is a huge blessing.”

North Harbor Tower has a history of philanthropy. They have planned successful book drives, pajama drives, and coat drives to benefit the community. For this project, Alicia said, “We chose The Salvation Army because we know that you guys want what’s best for our city as much as we do.” They’ve also participated in our Angel Tree program, which provides Christmas presents to children, seniors, and teens who otherwise might not receive them.

This isn’t North Harbor Tower’s first coat drive with us, though certainly their most successful to date. “We have participated a few times and we like to help out the community in any shape possible, especially right now during these troubling times,” Alicia said.

Alicia and Jackie say they heard from many residents who were thrilled to be part of a project that’s hands-on, as many volunteer opportunities are solely virtual right now.

“We were really proud as an office to have been able to make this happen and proud of our residents for participating,” Alicia said. As for the people who will receive the roughly 1,200 coats they delivered to The Salvation Army, she said, “We hope that those who are struggling right now are able to stay warm.”

“While Salvation Army has helped facilitate more than 30 coat drives across Chicagoland, North Harbor Tower provided nearly a third of the coats received to date,” said Suzie. “It gives me hope that while the need is so great, the community continues to step up and care for their neighbors by providing a basic need – warmth – to make it through winter in the Windy City.”

If you need a coat, go to your closest Salvation Army corps community center. If you would like to donate a coat, take it to your local Salvation Army Family Thrift Store. If your organization, company, or group would like to host a coat drive or other project to help neighbors in need, contact our volunteer department at metvolunteer@usc.salvationarmy.org.


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