- Associated Press - Sunday, October 12, 2014

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - For many, winter brings up holiday memories or thoughts of watching TV in a warm house, but to the homeless, winter is a tough time to survive out in the cold.

For the third year in a row, Amanda Sonday of Martinsburg and her sons, Malakai and Mikah, are collecting warm winter wear through Shared Cotton, the name Sonday has given to her annual coat collection.

Sonday collects men’s, women’s and children’s coats, hats, gloves and scarves and passes them out in late fall.

According to Sonday, she and her sons used to participate in the Help the Homeless Walk in Washington, D.C., which planted the seeds for the philanthropic effort.

“Our days spent at the Help the Homeless Walk are where the idea came from, really,” Sonday said. “The night before the walk, we always made sandwiches, put them in plastic bags and then placed them inside a knit hat to pass out along the route as we walked. When my son was 3, he asked if he could bring his blanket from home to give to someone who needed it, so I guess, in a way, it was his idea all along.”

Sonday said she and her family had done volunteer work in Martinsburg, but were looking for something they could do as time allowed.

Sonday said participation in Shared Cotton has increased over the years, and interest is growing this year.

“The first year, I think we acquired about 125 coats to give away,” she said. “Last year’s total was just shy of 350 coats, and it took five cars packed full to get all of them to the Men’s Rescue Mission in Martinsburg. This year, I have had two elementary schools contact me about setting up donation boxes and I placed a printable flyer on the Shared Cotton Facebook page for people to hang up at their work, school or day care.”

According to Sonday, there is a need for extra-large-sized coats. She said many men needed 2XL coats or bigger.

Sonday is willing to pick up donations from homes, schools or businesses in Berkeley and Jefferson counties. She said most of the arrangements are made through Shared Cotton’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/SharedCotton, or by email, SharedCotton@yahoo.com. Sonday may also be contacted by phone at 304-261-0909.

Sonday will wash donated items and separate them by size - with some little helpers.

“The boys are really involved in the process. They like sorting the coats and making posters for Giveaway Day. In our experience, happiness comes from helping others,” she said.

Coat Giveaway Day is scheduled for 11 a.m. Nov. 22 at the Men’s Rescue Mission in Martinsburg.

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Information from: The Journal, https://journal-news.net/

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