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Local business owners launch Coats for Kids

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    Haylee Lenz and Joel Shiver, local business owners, hold up coats they have collected for Coats for Kids. ALAINA CLARKE/Staff

Joel Shiver and Haylee Lenz, business owners in Jones County, have launched Coats for Kids, a small movement of collecting coats to give to children in need in the county.

Shiver said he’s excited to help out with such a great cause. He said as the owner of HappiMess, a local business, he feels it’s his responsibility to help people in his community.

“I drive a bus, and I noticed there were some kids without coats,” he said. “I didn’t know if they had a coat or just didn’t want to wear one. I messaged Haylee Lenz because I saw this as a problem. It all got started from there.”

He said it was pretty much an overnight idea that got started. Lenz, owner of Southern Peach Daisy Boutique, said she started contacting local businesses to help collect coats. She said most businesses are offering an incentive to people who donate a coat.

“We will go and collect the coats when it’s time. We are hoping to get coats from sizes four in kids to adults. We want to send some to the high school, so we will need bigger coats, too,” she said.

Businesses participating in Coats for Kids are the Van Norman Salon, Gray Stables, Southern Peach Daisy Boutique, HappiMess, Express Imaging, Salon 129, West Clinton Tire, Chevy’s Pizza, Be Creative with Val Elliot, and Gray-8-Skate. Shiver said he wants to see Coats for Kids gain traction.

“We wanted to do this because we love giving back to the community,” Shiver said. “There’s been a lot of growth through 2020, and I feel like God has given me another platform for my business. He is going to use that to give back to this community and these kids.”

The owner of HappiMess said people should donate because he doesn’t want to see children in Jones County cold or suffering. He said parents could be struggling to buy their children coats and clothing, especially this year.

Lenz said a coat is something essential as it gets colder outside. She said a lot of people take for granted something as simple as having a jacket or coat.

“You want a happy kid for Christmas, but you also want your kids to have the necessities. I feel like a coat is something they need. This time of year is a great time to give a child a coat,” the boutique owner said.

She said people can drop a coat off at any of the local businesses until Dec. 16. She said they can donate a coat after that date, but they want to be able to give the coats to the schools before the students are out of school for winter break.

“I enjoy giving back. God has blessed me with my own business, but I’ve been that mom struggling,” she said. “I know how it feels. I believe it goes full circle.”

Shiver said he likes being a part of something bigger than he is. He said he really wants to see this take off, so he hopes to see more people donate coats and jackets so children in the community won’t be freezing.

“On a school bus, you’re the first person they see before they get to school and the last person they see before they get home. You get to know these kids. It’s about giving back and seeing these kids get what they need,” he said.

Both business owners said they’d like to do Coats for Kids again next year. They said they’d like to see it grow bigger and grow into a community charity.

“Since I grew up in this community and Jones County has instilled so much in me, it’s great to be involved in something that gives back to my community,” Shiver said. “We’re dreaming big, but we’re taking this small step to get Coats for Kids going.”