Willis Dady Homeless Services says winter donations needed more than ever ahead of annual coat, gloves, and hat drive

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Willis Dady Homeless Services starts its coat, gloves, and hats donation drive this week through October 31st.

It was something Zayn Watson-Pierce has been thinking about a lot this fall as temperatures start to drop.

“I’m worried about where I am going to sleep, the weather getting cold, and where my next meal is going to come from,” he said.

Watson-Pierce has been homeless for the last 8-months. This week he and many others will be enduring the first freeze of the fall season.

“The cold can do so much damage to one’s body,” said Watson-Pierce.

Aaron Amundson, the Willis Dady Development Director, said Zayn was one of 107 people living outside. That was twice the number of people sleeping outside last year, and he said three times the highest number of 33 people pre-pandemic. He said winter gear was needed more than ever this year.

These are people too,” said Amundson. “They’re people in need. Part of their survival was being able to continue with support from others.”

Amundson said the increase could be traced back to three things: the pandemic, which made it difficult for some people to work, the derecho, which destroyed much of the city’s affordable housing, and inflation, which made the housing that was available out of reach for some. Donating a jacket, hat, or glove, could answer one of the many difficult questions those like Watson-Pierce are facing.

People can donate winter clothing to both Willis Dady locations SOKO Outfitters in the Czech Village will also be a drop-off location for the first time.