Coats for Our Community
Blount County Sheriff Officer John "JJ" James envisioned this project in 1994, aiming to provide residents a way to donate new and used coats to those in need of warmth. He enlisted the help of Blount County Fire Chief Doug McClanahan, Captain Jerry Phillips, and Lieutenant Johnny Leatherwood to set the project in motion. After careful consideration, they named it "Coats for Our Community."
The first year:
The community's response to the inaugural coat collection was overwhelming. As always, Blount County residents generously donated hundreds of coats. The coats were sorted into categories for children, women, and men, and then displayed at Eagleton Middle School for anyone needing one to pick up. The day was a resounding success, with many coats finding new homes and the remaining ones donated to other charities.
Coats and Smoke Alarms (Safe and warm):
From the beginning, everyone involved agreed that helping even one person would make the project a success. This commitment continues to this day. The program asks only one question of those receiving coats: Do you have a working smoke alarm? If not, the fire department will gladly install one in your home at NO CHARGE.
The program has come a long way since its humble beginnings with just a few coats. One thing that remains constant is the generosity of the Blount County community. Over the years, we have received and processed thousands of coats, providing warmth to countless friends in need. We have also installed hundreds of smoke alarms, keeping our community safer and warmer. In the 2012-2013 season alone, the program provided coats to over 2,500 children and adults, and the number of recipients continues to grow each year.
Coats can be dropped off at various locations throughout the county, including all fire stations and many businesses. Firefighters and dedicated volunteers then inspect each coat, ensuring it's clean and in good condition. If necessary, coats are washed and dried at the fire station. All inspected coats are delivered to our main distribution center at Blount County Fire Protection District - Station 7 located at 5156 Sevierville Road.
Upon arrival at Station 7, coats are checked in, sorted by size, and hung on racks. Families or individuals in need are then invited to "shop" for coats in the privacy of our coat rooms. Each person can receive one heavy coat and one lightweight coat.
Coats for Kids:
Each year, the program provides warmth to over 1,800 children through new coats. These coats are delivered to all schools in Blount County, as well as the cities of Alcoa, Maryville, Greenback, and Seymour. Each school is contacted beforehand to determine their specific needs. The coats are then delivered in the Coats for Our Community trailer, and students needing coats can "shop" for their perfect one. Whenever available, additional items like hats, gloves, and socks are also distributed.
Donations received by the project are used to purchase new coats. Firefighters visit major department stores in Blount County, Knoxville, Sevierville, and other surrounding areas to find the best after-season bargains. Coats are purchased as needed, typically at significantly reduced prices, allowing your support to go as far as possible and helping us reach our goal of providing new coats to as many children as possible.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
FINANCIAL SUPPORT - Any Amount!
SUPPORT ONE CHILD - $10
VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME Call (865)983-2133
Your Support $$ is always appreciated!
SUPPORT: (Help provide a child with a good warm Coat)
ANY AMOUNT (Your Choice) $____________
---Suggested amounts ---
Your Donation is a Tax Deductible.
Make Checks Payable to:
Blount County Fire (Coats)
or pay online: DONATE NOW
Blount County Fire Protection District
808 W Lamar Alexander PKWY
Maryville, TN 37801
For More Information:
Call Blount County Fire at (865) 983-2133
Thank You for Your Support!
Chief Doug McClanahan