COAT TALES OTHER COATS WITH A CAUSE
tay with me a moment, dear reader. There’s a point to all of this! Promise. This month’s tale starts off in Tarija, Bolivia—and ends in my closet. In previous notes, I’ve written about my experiences with an organization that provides eye care to people in South America. Last year, our group travelled to Tarija, a small city in the southern part of Bolivia. I first noticed Lori, one of the other volunteers, when she arrived at the airport wearing an oversized camel-coloured men’s shearling jacket. It was a rather curious ensemble, given that the daytime temperature in this town is typically in the mid-20s.
“That’s quite the coat,” I said, making my way over to her. “Did you think it was going to be cold here?” She smiled. “Oh, it’s not for me,” she replied. “I was in a second-hand store back home in Hawaii when I spotted this jacket. I just knew that I had to bring it with me and that I would find the person who needed it most.”
Now, I must confess that I thought she was a little unusual—and her mission even more so. That said, each day I made a point of asking her if she’d found the right person for her jacket. A few days before the end of the project, I rounded the corner in the clinic and came face to face with a man wearing her coat. He had rosy cheeks—typically seen in someone who lives in a higher altitude—and he was beaming.
“You found someone!” I said to Lori, who was standing beside him. “Yes, he came in from the Altiplano region, near La Paz, to have his tear ducts operated on,” she said, smiling. “Apparently they didn’t drain properly, so his eyes were always getting frozen shut from his tears. I knew I’d find someone for my coat!”
I was reminded of this story as I was scanning my closet to find a jacket I could donate to the Lolë Yellow Label Program. The program, which the Montreal-based company launched in 2011, collects gently used winter coats and sells them for a modest price (between $10 and $50). It has collected close to 2,000 coats since it started and raised more than $15,000. This year’s drive runs from October 1 to December 1, and proceeds from the sale go to Food Banks Canada and Moisson Montreal. (For the drop-off depot nearest you, go to lolewomen.com.) I asked Geneviève Laurendeau, head of PR for Lolë, why the company launched the program, and she said it was their desire to “support smart, sustainable consumption and to give something back to the community.” It got me thinking about the upcoming gift-giving season and how important it is to be generous with people you may never meet but who will benefit most from your kindness. Happy holidays!
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