In the fall of 1992, Lois Pavlow had an extra coat that she no longer wanted; rather than discard the coat, she wanted to give it to someone who really needed it, but didn’t know how to go about doing that. She decided she would hold a coat drive, and with the support of her local Macys, she had a location.
For the next nine years, Lois and the Macys in Union Square, San Francisco, organized a coat drive on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving. What had started with one coat had grown into a sizable coat drive that received local media coverage.
Fast forward to November 26, 2001, Sherri Wood was in her car listening to the DJ on the radio station describe the scene at Union Square where a woman was rushing to get to the coat drive before it ended, taking a city bus with 10 gently worn coats overflowing out of her arms. This description sent chills down Sherri’s spine and light bulbs went off in her head, “why?” she thought. “Why is there only one coat drive? Why does the coat drive only last three days? Why can’t everyone hold coat drives?”
Six month later, Sherri approached Lois with her ideas to create a coat drive program that anyone and everyone could enact, and the One Warm Coat we know today was born. Starting with a volunteer staff of one, small Board of Directors, zero budget and simple website, One Warm Coat has grown from a single coat drive in San Francisco to a national movement and staff-led 501c3 nonprofit organization.
Today, One Warm Coat supports more than 3500 coat drives annually. We are supported by volunteer Coat Drive Ambassadors of all ages and representing every state, from preschools to families, faith-based groups to scouts, retail stores to large corporations and everything in-between. All because one person had one extra coat to give.