Officials with the Big Spring Area Salvation Army say this year's winter coat and heater drive are going well, however, with temperatures expected to drop dramatically in the coming weeks, the demand is anticipated to exceed supply.
According to Patsy Heckler, office manager for the local charity, there are a few space heaters currently in stock.
“We have approximately two to three space heaters available right now,” Heckler said. “It's always hard to say how long they will last and with the coming cold snap, I expect they will go pretty quickly.”
According to Salvation Army Social Worker Bessie Flores, those in need of a space heater can drop by the charity's office — located at 811 W. Fifth St. — and speak to the staff.
“When the temperature gets below freezing, people will do whatever they have to do to keep warm. It's not a matter of staying comfortable, it's a matter of staying alive,” she said. “Unfortunately, that sometimes leads people to very risky situations, such as using charcoal grills indoors or other heat sources without the proper ventilation.
“The carbon monoxide released by those heat sources can very easily kill a person, or even an entire family. It can cause a house fire, as well, and then you have a family who already had very little left with nothing at all. Each of the heaters we provide will help people and families stay warm, but it can also do so much more. In essence, it could help save lives and property.”
Flores said donations can be made in the form of new or used heaters — although they do need to be in good working order — or monetary donations so the local charity can purchase the heaters and distribute them.
“Each heater costs an average of $45,” Flores said. “So, as you can imagine, they go pretty fast, especially when the weather turns cold.”
Heckler said the local charity also has a number of winter coats available to those in need.
“We have quite a few coats sized for children,” Heckler said. “However, the adult sizes — especially extra large and up — are pretty hard to come by. Anyone who has a winter coat and would like to donate it to the program, it is greatly appreciated, especially if they have larger-sized coats.
“I don't know if you've seen the prices of winter coats this year, but they are pretty high. A decent coat can cost upwards of $40 to $50, and for a family scrambling to put food on the table or keep the electricity on, that can be well out of reach. It means so much to them to be able to come to the Salvation Army and leave here with a warm coat to protect them from the elements.”
For more information on the heater and winter coat drive, contact Flores or Heckler at 432-267-8239.