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Temperatures in Western New York begin to drop in October, with the rare surprise of a below-freezing night before November is even here. Worse are the nights through the winter months, in which the average daily temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and the dangerous nights of January below 20 degrees. The freezing weather is only made worse if you consider the snow, which averages more than 90 inches annually in Buffalo.

As the cold weather approaches, we are reminded to break out the sweaters and coats when leaving the house. However, those experiencing homelessness or who cannot afford warm clothes for the colder temperatures may struggle with the seasonal change. For those in need, Hearts for the Homeless distributes warm clothing and accessories during our feeding program to the chronic homeless and poor. Each year our supplies are exhausted, and we need to replenish these items.  

There are two prime winter items that go quickly due to their popularity; warm thermal gloves and dry socks. In addition, we also accept donations of face masks, hats, sweatshirts, sweatpants, fleece jackets or flannel shirts, ski jackets, winter coats, blankets, and sleeping bags, thermal pants and shirts, and more. If the clothing or accessory is designed for warmth, we collect the items to give to those facing – or even sleeping in – the elements. We also hand out shoes and boots and hope to make a large purchase of new winter boots to provide to our clients downtown.

At the library downtown, we keep the Mobile Soup Kitchen shuttle stocked with 6-10 large boxes of warm clothing and accessories and distribute them with meals five nights a week, 52 weeks a year. Additionally, Hearts Thrift Shop stockpiles winter hats and scarves for both children and adults. These items are offered free of charge to thrift store customers who come in without them. As long as we keep receiving donations, we keep giving them out.

Help take the winter weather sting and chill away from our neighbors. Consider donating new or gently used winter clothes and accessories. Find a donation bin, donate by mail or online, or shop or Amazon Wishlist. The hearts of our donors are the backbone of our mission to nourish the community through dignified service.