Belanger asked her husband if she could use his office as a drop-off site and then went to Facebook for help, posting a request for gently used coats and shoes on a yard sale page. The response was immediate.
“Within an hour, dozens of people were offering to give and sharing my post to help spread the word,” said Belanger.
Soon, donations were being dropped off daily, and Belanger spent her evenings washing coats and disinfecting shoes. McDonough’s principal, Ken DiBenedetto, gladly supported the project and allowed Belanger to use a large closet at school to store the donations. But there were no shelves, clothing racks or hangers. That’s when a Manchester store stepped in.
Adam Tessier from The Home Depot on March Avenue donated manpower and materials to install wardrobe rods in the closet. The store also offered, free of charge, dozens of coat hangers, as well as 20 totes for shoes, gloves, mittens and scarves. Now any teacher at McDonough has access to items in the closet to give to their students in need.
As the cold weather approaches, Belanger is hoping to fill the closet with new or gently used winter coats and boots. Her hope is that she will not only be able to meet the needs of the students at McDonough but offer items to other Manchester schools as well. Any Manchester educators can email Belanger to make a request for students. If the items are available, Belanger will make sure those students get them.
Anyone who wishes to donate gently used or new coats, boots, socks and other winter accessories for children ages 5-11 can bring them to the Allstate insurance office at 1181 Hanover Street in Manchester.