Winter Coat Drive in need of more donations

Queen’s Winter Coat Exchange experiences high demand for warm jackets

The Winter Coat Drive is located in the JDUC Room of Requirement.
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Winter clothing is essential to students’ success this time of the year, and Queen’s Winter Coat Exchange (QWCE) knows that all too well. 

The group provides free cold-weather essentials to students, faculty, and staff to ensure the Queen’s community is prepared for winter weather conditions. 

QWCE can be accessed anonymously, free of charge, Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to midnight, in the Queen’s Room of Requirement (JDUC 238). It operates on a take-what-you-need basis where students simply take the clothing and return it when they’re done.

Former student Heather Poechman, MA ’18, founded the exchange in 2016 during the fourth year of her undergraduate degree. She hoped to help provide international and exchange students with access to winter-appropriate attire. 

After Poechman graduated last spring, the AMS took over the exchange. As AMS Deputy of Environmental Affairs, Laura Lee, Sci ’21, is responsible for managing it. 

“QWCE is a student-run service under the Social Issues Commission of the AMS. It operates in the same way as in previous years, where students can take winter items when they need and can either return them as the weather gets warmer or keep [them] to use in the future,” Lee wrote in an email to The Journal.

“By using QWCE, students can focus on their academic responsibilities, rather than on the cold weather.”Lee is currently focused on raising awareness for the exchange. 

“I hope to create a unique identity for the service on campus that would help students recognize QWCE easily on promotional materials and social media,” Lee said, adding she made a logo and a Facebook page to raise awareness online.

She’s also trying to increase accessibility by adding braille writing to all labels in the exchange room. The AMS is, additionally, considering a proposal to make the QWCE manager a volunteer position next year and going forward. 

Meanwhile, QWCE relies on the help of both the Queen’s and Kingston communities. 

This season, it’s received donations from local businesses, including Roots, Phase 2, Cloth, Cash for Clothes, and Value Village. It’s also received support from the Faculty of Arts & Science Office, the International Programs Office, Queen’s University International Centre, Queen’s professors, and students in the form of donations. 

Despite these contributions, the exchange is experiencing a shortage in winter gear available for use. 

Lee explained QWCE had difficulty collecting large quantities of donations at the beginning of the winter season and has been facing a significant challenge in meeting the winter-gear demand for items since the weather has deteriorated. 

“One of the barriers I’ve faced with meeting the demand for winter items was collecting enough donations,” Lee said, adding she’s been in communication with multiple stores around Kingston to raise awareness for QWCE and seek more community support for the service. 

For those looking to make a donation, QWCE accepts gently used coats, hats, mittens, scarves, socks and new winter boots. 

Items can be brought to the Room of Requirement or Social Issues Commission Office in the AMS Offices, open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m to 5:30 p.m.

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