The national economic picture looks bleak, but people in Lawrence who can afford to are stepping forward to help those who have less.
That means donations to Scotch Fabric Care's annual Share the Warmth coat drive are starting to pick up.
And churches, businesses and others already are adopting families through social services agencies to provide Christmas gifts to them.
About 1,000 coats have been donated to Share the Warmth, said Scott Shmalberg, president of Scotch Industries in Lawrence. Collections started Oct. 27 and will continue through Nov. 26.
"I think the elections slowed things up, but they are starting to come in at a more rapid pace now," Shmalberg said.
The demand for coats is expected to be higher this year because of the economic downturn, Shmalberg said. Last year more than 2,100 coats were collected and given out to about 1,000 people, he said.
Scotch wants coats that are in good condition but the company will clean them before distribution. There is always a special need for coats for children as well as men's and women's larger size coats. Blankets, scarves and matched gloves also are accepted. Donations can be made at any of several Scotch business locations.
The coats will be distributed on Dec. 5-6 but a location hasn't been selected and will be announced later.
Local social service agencies in the Holiday Bureau assist needy families and individuals. A total of 200 families have signed up to receive assistance in the Adopt A Family Program at two of those agencies, Ballard Community Services, 708 Elm, and Penn House, 1035 Pa., said Andy Brown, Ballard's director of human services.
So far, 80 families have been adopted to receive gifts for the holidays, Brown said. He expects 400 to 500 families on the adoption list in a few weeks. He predicts the community will step up and adopt all of the families.
Brown isn't expecting an increase in the number of families seeking help, just new names and faces.
"I think we might see some different people in different situations," he said. "They may be closer to the top of our income guidelines than usual just because other expenses have gone up."
The Black Law Students Association at Kansas University is conducting a Thanksgiving food drive and soliciting monetary donations for food purchases. Canned food and non-perishable food items are sought. There is a special need for turkeys, BLSA President Trinia Arellano said. BLSA works with local agencies to see that the food is distributed to needy people.
KU law faculty and staff are always generous, but outside donations have been sluggish since the drive began Nov. 3, Arellano said.
Donations will be taken through Nov. 21. There are receptacles at the KU School of Law, 1535 W. 15th St. Monetary donations can be sent to BLSA at the law school address, room 313, Lawrence 66046.