WICHITA, Kan. -- An old gymnasium inside the Salvation Army building in downtown Wichita overflowed with winter clothing donations.
That was last November.
By Thursday, all that was left barely filled a small closet in the building. About 10 coats hung on the rack and a small cardboard box filled with hats and gloves sat on the floor.
"There was a very high demand. It was higher than it has been in the past couple years," Major Glen Caddy said. "This past fall we distributed 7000 articles of clothing: hats, gloves mittens, scarves, coats, sweaters and sweatshirts. All kinds of things for warmth went to 3100 individuals."
All those articles of clothing were collected during last year's KAKEland Warm Hearts drive. The drive is a partnership between KAKEland, In the Bag Cleaners, the Salvation Army, and other sponsors.
The annual campaign began in 1988 and serves to collect gently used and new winter clothing for those less fortunate. The people who benefit range from families struggling to make ends meet to individuals who are homeless.
This year's drive kicked off Thursday with the Salvation Army saying they expect the need they saw last year to be even greater this year.
They are asking people to drop off donations from now through January 31st. The donations should be taken to any of the 14 "In The Bag" cleaners locations in the Wichita area. They can also be taken to KAKE-TV studios near 13th and West.
Maj. Caddy says as government assistance programs have been cut back, more families seem to be looking for that little extra to help get them through.
"People are having to make tough choices: Do I buy a coat for my child or do I feed them? This type of program allows us to help them as they work through those choices and difficult times in their life," Maj. Caddy said.
He says it's the continued generosity of the community that allows the program to be successful.
After dropping your donations are dropped off, In the Bag will clean all the items and prepare them for the Salvation Army to distribute in the fall. The Salvation Army does not put any of the items in their stores. They say all of the donations are distributed in the fall as part of the Warm Hearts program. They distribute the items at that time because it's just before the cold temperatures reach KAKEland.
The Salvation Army says they are especially in need of coats for children.
But Maj. Caddy says any donation helps.
"You can imagine someone trying to brave the cold and especially the wind," Maj. Caddy said. "This program allows us, through this partnership, to provide for them."
You can make your donation at any of the following In the Bag Cleaners locations:
12115 E. 21st St. #105 (East 21st & K-96)
3700 N. Woodlawn #101 (37th and Woodlawn)
3236 N. Rock Rd. #150 (32nd & Rock Rd.)
2240 N. Rock Rd. #107 (21st & Rock Rd.)
8115 E. Central (Central and Rock Rd.)
5624 E. Central (Central and Edgemoor)
1520 S. Webb Rd. #200 (Harry and Webb)
2250 N. Ridge Rd. #500 (21st and Ridge)
10231 W. 21st St. (21st and Maize Rd.)
12111 W. Maple (119th & Maple)
10646 W. Central (Central and Maize)
420 S. Andover Rd. #103 (Andover)
1636 N. Rock Rd. #800 (Derby)
201 W. Broadway (Newton)