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Project Overcoat under way in metro area

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

The United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta is working with several venues in the area to bring hope to residents who might otherwise be left out in the cold.

Through Jan. 24, the agency is spearheading Project Overcoat, an effort aimed at collecting coats and blankets for homeless people and their families.

Malika White, media relations manager for the local United Way, says the venture has been a successful one in the area for more than a decade.

"This is a way for us to give back to the community, and provide coats and blankets to shelters and non-profit agencies who serve our homeless population," says White. "We also have faith-based groups and schools that request coats for children and families."

Approximately 67 agencies have applied to receive coats and blankets through the undertaking. According to White, that figure represents a 16 percent increase in need for the area, compared with last year.

Partners for Project Overcoat include the Atlanta Union Mission, FedEx, Fox 5 Atlanta, Kiss 104.1 FM and all Kroger locations in metro Atlanta.

Glynn Jenkins is the director of communications and public relations for Kroger's Atlanta division. He says the company is proud to be involved in Project Overcoat for the second straight year.

"Kroger is a strong presence in the community," says Jenkins. "We strive to be a great corporate neighbor. Last year, we collected 15,526 coats and blankets. This year, our goal is to have 17,000 donations at our stores."

One of the locations currently collecting items for the United Way is the Kroger at 301 Jonesboro Rd., in McDonough. General Manager Ron Thrift, with apparent excitement in his voice, says customers at his store have responded well to the project. "The people in this community have been outstanding in helping us to collect coats," says Thrift. "Every time I turn around, the box for donations is full."

A list of collection sites and volunteer opportunities for the United Way may be obtained by calling the United Way at 211, or visiting www.unitedwayatlanta.org/211.

According to the organization's web site, volunteers are needed to sort the donated items when Project Overcoat is completed. Coats and blankets will be classified at the Carpenter's House, located at 2355 Bolton Rd., N.W., in Atlanta.

For more information, contact Melissa Clayton at melissa.clayton@myaum.org.