By Erica Coghill
A 16-year-old’s tradition of helping those in need continues this year.
Makenzie Smith started Makenzie’s Coat Closet in 2006 when she was 7 years old. She collected about 70 coats for the less fortunate that first year.
Her nonprofit organization has grown so much that this year she’s able to provide coats to about 3,500 people in need.
“It touches your heart year after year and makes you want to continue keep it going,” Smith said.
Smith started Makenzie’s Coat Closet after hearing from a teacher about how many people were going to spend the winter without the bare necessities.
“Throughout the day I thought on it more and more. By the time I got home I decided I was going to start a coat collection,” Smith said.
She pitched the idea to her parents, who were a bit hesitant at first.
“They were kind of like, ‘What is a 7-year-old going to do?’ It is a huge dream to have,” Smith said.
They supported her dream and the entire family joined in to help collect coats.
“I wouldn’t have a coat if it wasn’t for her. I came here without a coat and I’m leaving with one on … and I think it is awesome,” said Frances Steed.
Collection boxes are dropped off at churches, schools and businesses and then the coats are picked up for distribution at St. Vincent de Paul.
The distribution day for this year ended at 2 p.m. Friday.