This year has been unpredictable and difficult, to say the least. We’ve all heard the word “unprecedented” probably dozens of times already, but this is truly an unprecedented situation. We are in a position that we never saw coming. Given the continually evolving status of COVID-19 and the nature of the community we serve, we feel it is best to postpone this year’s Buy Nothing Day Coat Exchange event.
We spoke with staff from the Rhode Island Department of Health who strongly advised against gatherings of large groups. There remains much uncertainty regarding virus transmission, including how long it can survive on various surfaces such as coats. Handing out coats and winter gear that may also carry potential exposure to the virus to those already at risk could be devastating. The last thing we want is to exacerbate the problem.
However, we recognize that there is a need for warmth in the homeless and low-income communities, and that many of our neighbors rely on this event to access coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. We plan to tentatively postpone the distribution event to January 2021, with further details to come as we learn more about the spread of the virus.
We understand that many of the distribution sites we work with operate independently. We implore you to heed the advice of the Rhode Island Department of Health and postpone both collection and distribution of coats and winter gear until further notice. The health and safety of those we serve is paramount.
We always welcome and deeply appreciate monetary donations to help offset the costs of running this event. Your donations help pay for U-Hauls to transport the coats and winter gear, along with site improvements (fencing, tables, mirrors, etc). This year, donations will also be put towards hand sanitizer, masks/face coverings, and safety protocol signage such as social distancing stickers, in the event that we are able to hold the exchange at a later date when it is safe to do so.
On a more optimistic note, during the last few months, we have been hard at work becoming an officially recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the state of Rhode Island. We are still working on finalizing our tax-exempt status, but we are happy to report that we are officially recognized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We’ll keep you posted as we continue to make progress towards becoming tax-exempt.
We thank you for your ongoing support of our Rhode Island community. Stay safe, stay positive, and spread the warmth.
Lauren and Pam Testoni