The IBEW Local 1 Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC) is once again collecting new and gently used coats for its annual children’s coat drive.
Since 2004, the caucus has given away 11,000 new coats and 4,000 used coats to local families in need, said EWMC President Sylvester Taylor, who also serves as director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the Electrical Connection.
The group’s members work with local children’s organizations to identify the specific needs of each child who will receive a new coat. They then head to Old Navy or Macy’s to buy the coats.
“They give us the child’s age, size and gender, so we know what kind of coat would be appropriate,” he said. “We give all the used coats we collect to the Hope House. It’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart.”
Taylor started the program after seeing the need for it firsthand. Back then, he was a member of the group 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis, a non-profit organization that provides a positive support system to local youth in need.
Taylor scored two tickets to one of the St. Louis Cardinal’s playoff games and invited a teen he was mentoring from ECHO Children’s Home to the game. He remembers the day vividly.
“It was a crisp, cool October afternoon,” Taylor recalled. “I went over to pick him up, and he just had a sweatshirt on. I had on a leather coat. I told him to go get his coat, and he said he hadn’t had one for two years. He lifted up his sweatshirt and had three other sweatshirts on underneath. It just broke my heart.”
Taylor said he called his wife, explained the situation and asked if he could buy the teen a coat. She agreed and shortly afterward, Taylor began the coat drive and its been a success ever since.
YOU CAN HELP
New and gently used coats may be dropped off at the IBEW Local 1 union hall at 5850 Elizabeth Ave. in St. Louis or you can send a check made payable to EWMC Coat Drive to Taylor at 12756 Orley Drive, Black Jack, MO 63033.