Last call for kids’ coats

STEUBENVILLE – It’s a good problem to have – more money for a program than need.

But Capts. Steve and Dolly Griffin, commanding officers of the Salvation Army of Jefferson County, want to be sure children in need of coats this winter get one – and fast, given that many stores already are beginning to display spring apparel.

“We still have funds from this year’s Coats for Kids campaign,” Steve said Wednesday afternoon, noting the program had its best year ever thanks to many generous donations.

The Salvation Army used funds from it to purchase coats for more than 120 children, according to the Griffins, but is in urgency mode to connect with those who may yet need one.

“The stores are getting ready for spring, which means winter coats won’t be available,” Steve said.

The coats program is open to Jefferson County residents, age newborn to grade 12, according to the Griffins, who urge those who can demonstrate need to contact the Salvation Army by calling (740) 282-5121 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday to make an appointment to purchase a coat.

“It’s better to have more money than more kids (and less money),” Dolly said of the Salvation Army’s unique situation.

The Coats for Kids program is but one bright spot of an overall holiday season punctuated by the public’s spirit of giving, which the Griffins said they truly appreciate.

“It’s been wonderful,” Dolly said. “I just love it here. I feel like I fit right in.”

The Salvation Army has had a busy holiday season.

On Thanksgiving day, for example, it served 386 meals at its headquarters located at 332 N. Fourth St., Steubenville. Sixty dinners were home-delivered to shut-ins.

For Christmas, it provided 215 families with meals and gifts and more than 200 children with toys through its Angel Tree program, another demonstration of the community’s heart to help others, they said.

And, on New Year’s Day, 210 dinners were served at the Salvation Army headquarters.

The Salvation Army partnered with Wal-Mart this year to “Fill the Truck,” an effort that generated 163 additional toys and 20 coats for the needy.

Its gift wrap station at the Fort Steuben Mall during Christmas was yet another example of community support, with more than $2,500 raised in donations.

The organization’s holiday kettle campaign to raise $46,500, meanwhile, came up about $3,000 short, in part because of foul weather conditions that interrupted collection efforts, according to the Griffins.

Donations to compensate that deficit continue to be accepted and are tax-deductible. Checks can be made payable to the Salvation Army of Jefferson County and mailed to P.O. Box 1226, Steubenville, OH 43952.

The Griffins expressed repeated appreciation for the generosity of area residents.

“It’s a very, very supportive community,” Steve said.

Next up on the Salvation Army’s calendar is its civic dinner, which normally is held in the fall but is being bumped to the spring. It’s on the calendar for March 31 at St. Florian Hall and will include the presentation of the prestigious Others Award for service to Jefferson County commissioner Dave Maple. Jean White and Kathryn Bonham will be saluted as Volunteers of the Year.

The banquet comes during a special time for the local Salvation Army unit, which is celebrating 130 years of service to Steubenville and Jefferson County, according to the Griffins, who are thankful for what 2013 has brought and optimistic about the new year.

“2014 is going to be a great year,” Dolly said.

“God is good.”