By Jim Newell
Special Writer for The Leader
Winter weather is upon us and several caring individuals in the Oxford and Orion and communities want to make sure that no one gets left out in the cold and are, instead, wrapped in a new winter coat.
Matt Pfeiffer, owner of Northern Wholesale Flooring in Orion Township, is running Operation Warm to collect new and clean, gently used coats, hats, gloves and scarves to help keep people in the community warm this winter.
Pfeiffer joined Oxford resident and philanthropist Connie Miller a few years ago to help with donations. Miller, who began the coat drive at Immanuel Congregational United Church of Christ in the Village of Oxford, also runs the Free Meals program at the church on Wednesdays.
In early December 2021, the coats program at Immanuel church supplied many students at Oxford High School with new coats after they had to leave their coats at school, Miller said.
“It is the holiday season and we are in a world that has a lot of people in need. We’re trying to gather as many warm clothing items – coats, hats, scarves, gloves, mittens – as we can get,” Pfeiffer said. “In 2021, we had over 4,500 items donated. In 2020, we had 3,000 items and they all went to people in our community, in north Oakland County.”
Pfeiffer asks that people limit donations to the items listed above. Donations are dispersed to families in need throughout Orion and Oxford, but also in neighboring communities in northern Oakland County when a need arises.
“Everybody has one piece of clothing in their closet that they don’t need any more that could go to help somebody else,” Pfeiffer said, adding that he knows with the current state of the economy, times are tough for everyone.
He’s asking local businesses and families to find a way to help out, if they can.
“Maybe they buy one coat to donate instead of one Christmas gift, or they pool some money for a donation. Every little bit helps out,” he said. “Or if businesses are looking for something to donate to this year, this will really help the people in their community.”
Operation Warm runs now through January.
“I always say until Christmas but we always run it past and into January. We usually do get stuff into January because people get new coats and hats for Christmas and then want to donate what they had and don’t need anymore,” Pfeiffer said.
If people want to donate money, Pfeiffer takes those funds and goes shopping to fill the void of certain sizes or items that were not donated in the needed quantities.
Donations can be dropped off at Northern Flooring Wholesale Flooring & Floor Trader Outlet, 118 Indianwood Rd. Anyone dropping off clothing can leave it in the foyer of the business after business hours. Call 248-693-9457 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for donation information or assistance.
Immanuel Congregational United Church of Christ is at 1 Hovey St. and accepts donations during business hours. Contact the church at 248-628-1610 or email email@example.com.
Woodside Bible Church – Lake Orion (and the food pantry) is at the south end of Canterbury Village on Joslyn Road in Orion Township, and has partnered with Northern Flooring and Immanuel Congregational to help collect and distribute winter coats and accessories.