A brainstorm of Mitchell Schaffer, owner of Mobile Edge, 52 Blakeslee Blvd., Lehighton, is making winter a little warmer for some needy children in Carbon County.
Schaffer was watching the news about a community doing a coat drive for children and then sat back and thought, 'I'll bet there are a lot of children out there that do not have warm coats during the winter.'
"My parents weren't rich, but I never had to worry about having a decent coat," he said. "I was never cold, but I didn't realize that there are a lot of children in our backyard who are cold every day at the bus stop or on their way to and from school."
His thoughts moved him into action, and he provided his store for collections.
His promotion is called, "Coats for Kids."
If his customers bring in a coat, they would get $50 off the purchase of a remote car starter or $25 off a button model (remote car starter) or receive a $25 Mobile Edge gift card that could be used toward another purchase.
After setting up a few guidelines, he put his idea on advertising signs posted within his store and on his social networking site.
Soon, that word of mouth advertising was bringing coats into his store.
While some customers were thrilled with the discount, he found that many more people just wanted to help and were dropping off coats without seeking a discount or gift card.
"I needed a place to accept the coats," he said.
After hearing about Care Net of Carbon County, he met with Suzi DeMara, director, and Debbie Balch, administrative assistant, who assured him that the coats would go to needy families in Carbon County. He was sold on allowing Care Net to distribute the coats.
Care Net is a faith-based nonprofit organization that receives no government funding.
While its main focus is to educate young girls on the merits of keeping their child versus having an abortion, Care Net's tentacles are more far-reaching.
It actually helps women keep their babies by providing baby clothes, furniture, maternity clothes, and provides support through training, support groups and one-on-one counseling sessions. Services to the clients are free.
Whenever women receive counseling or education, they earn "Mommy Dollars," to spend for tangible items at Care Net.
There are also sessions that help women and their significant others strengthen their relationships, and all sessions are based on a strong religious faith that has made a difference in the lives of many young women.
Since the project has had such a profound effect on Schaffer, he has decided to extend the coat collection through the end of January.
Schaffer said that since the Coats for Kids project had been so successful this year, he plans to continue and expand the project for next year by starting earlier in the season.
So far, Mobile Edge has collected nearly 100 coats.
"The coats are going to truly needy persons," he said. "I was sold on Care Net when they explained the idea that through this program, people who receive the coats are trying to better themselves."
Schaffer said that when he first discussed the project, one of his friends, Scott Stenack, who installs Sirius Radio in vehicles in the Washington D.C. area, told his sister about the project, and soon Scott's sister and employees bought some new coats, gloves and scarves, packed them up and sent them to Lehighton.
"The package arrived and all I could think was that good things are happening from this promotion," he said.
He also had some help from Malcolm Gieske of Identity Group, who printed signs and banners for Schaffer to use to promote the project in and around the store.
Schaffer said that if anyone has an old, gently-used coat, they could bring it in and receive a discount.
While he is focusing on children's coats, he will accept coats of all sizes because mommies get cold too. He is asking that coats brought in for donation are in decent shape.
"There is no catch," said Schaffer. "Warm yourself and warm a child at the same time."