By Stephanie R. Jones
Jackson Metro area residents might not need coats right now but it’s still winter and cold weather will come again before the season is over. To make sure everyone stays warm when temperatures do fall, the Metro Jackson Chapter of the National Pan Hellenic Council – an umbrella group of black sororities and fraternities – held its annual “Warm Coats and Warm Hearts” initiative in conjunction with Burlington Coat Factory at Metro Center Mall Monday.
This is the 7th year the council has held the drive to collect coats for those in need, said Floyd Williams, chairman of the event and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. The coat drive is the council’s event to give service on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “We wanted the Divine 9 (African American Greek-letter fraternities and sororities) to do something collectively on this day,” Williams said.
The Warm Coats and Warm Hearts initiative was started by the national news program Good Morning America. Williams said during Monday’s drive, the group collected more coats than ever before. They filled seven collection bins at Burlington. “We collected between 1,000 to 1,500 coats,” Williams said. Williams said the goal each year has been to do better than the previous year.
In 2016, he said, the drive netted approximately 850 coats. “So we surpassed that this year,” Williams said. Sorority members of Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho and fraternity members of Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Phi Alpha and Phi Beta Sigma, and Iota Phi Theta participated in the drive. Rose Franklin, president of Beta Delta Omega Chapter of AKA, said her chapter donated 120 coats this year. Williams said the good thing is the coats collected stay in the metro area so local families benefit. Last year, he said, the day after news of the drive was broadcast on a local television station, the council heard from a family that had lost everything in a fire and asked for help. “We were able to provide the entire family with coats. “It’s a great thing nationally, for the state and locally. Local families will benefit from this,” he said.
Stephanie R. Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 454-0372.