CDTA’s Jaime Watson talks about Saturday’s “Stuff the Bus” event and CDTA’s partnership // Photo courtesy of Albany County
ALBANY COUNTY — Albany County Executive Dan McCoy has launched a new campaign to help homeless veterans and their families in Albany County. The new initiative, dubbed Albany County Cares About our Veterans, was announced in front of Lord & Taylor at Crossgates Mall on Thursday, Nov. 10 and will continue through Dec. 23.
Albany County Cares will collect new or gently used coats, hats, scarves, gloves and boots as well as personal hygiene products to donate to veterans in need. The campaign expands on the program known as “Katie’s Koats,” founded by Katie Drobner of Selkirk in 2012, but will now include a variety of clothing items and other personal needs items collected in partnership with Crossgates Mall, Lord & Taylor, ShopRite, Best Cleaners, CDTA and Albany County. Donated items will be distributed by HATAS (The Homeless and Travelers Aid Society) and the Veterans Miracle Center.
“A large number of at-risk veterans are having trouble competing for employment, are living with post-traumatic stress disorder and are dealing with substance abuse issues,” said McCoy. “They shouldn’t have to worry about warm clothing in the cold winter months or personal care items. Our veterans Service Bureau does all it can to help veterans and their families. They have sacrificed for us and this is an opportunity for the community to do what we can to help them.”
“Cold dark nights leave our homeless Veterans shivering and in need of a warm coats, winter boots, and other cold weather apparel. If you’re buying a new set of boots this year, donate your gently used pair to someone who has served our nation,” said Liz Hitt, executive director of HATAS. “While we think of veterans as adults, many of them have children that they struggle to keep warm. Children’s cold weather apparel is therefore greatly appreciated.”
“A clean winter coat makes all the difference for veterans and their families,” said Tim McCann, owner of Best Cleaners, which collects and cleans the clothing items free of charge before they are disbursed to recipients. “Please make an effort to get your donations to our stores early and often.”
At the announcement, ShopRite presented gift cards for $1,000 each to HATAS and VMC to get the campaign started.
“We are proud to help support veterans throughout the Capital Region,” said Tom Urtz, VP of operations for ShopRite Supermarkets, Inc. “Supporting local veterans organizations within the communities our stores serve is a major focus of our charitable giving throughout the year, and is our way of honoring the heroes in our neighborhoods who have sacrificed so much to serve our country.”
“Lord and Taylor is proud to be a part of this community,” said Karen Lotrecchiano, general manager at Lord & Taylor. “If we can support and give back in any way to help make a difference for the Veterans and their families, we are proud to participate. It is a small gesture of gratitude for their overwhelming commitment to our community.”
This Saturday, Nov. 12, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., there will be a “Stuff the Bus” event in the overflow lot on the Western Ave. side of Crossgates Mall.
“Albany County and CDTA cares about Veterans and stuffing one of our buses is a great way to show our appreciation for the men and women who have served our country,” said CDTA CEO Carm Basile.
Clothing items may be dropped at any Best Cleaners, boxes at Lord & Taylor and the Crossgates Mall Customer Service Desk; personal hygiene items may be dropped at ShopRite stores in Albany County and the Crossgates Mall Service desk box; all donations will be accepted at Albany County office buildings at 112 State Street, 162 Washington Avenue and 175 Green Street through December 23.
“I am so proud that in just four years, what started as Katie’s Koats has evolved into a much larger campaign to help our homeless veterans and their families,” said Katie Drobner, inspiration for Katie’s Koats coat drive. “I never dreamed so many people and businesses would get involved and I am happy to say even more have already expressed interest in helping us grow in the future.”