OJR Key Club’s Collected Coats Warm Those in Need

Owen J. Roberts High junior and Key Club secretary Finlay Drucquer (at top) with a car full of winter coats

POTTSTOWN PA – As a wave of frigid air and the threat of heavy of snow loom over western Montgomery and northern Chester counties Sunday through Tuesday (Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2021) it’s likely hundreds of recipients of coats, collected by students of the Key Club at Owen J. Roberts High School, will be happily bundled up against what weather forecasters say is about to hit.

Key Club members, guided by teacher-advisors Leah Braun and Brenda Fronheiser, recently spent several weeks collecting and distributing winter wear from generous donors to keep those without adequate cold-weather protection warm and comfortable. Among students working on the project was Key Club secretary and webmaster, OJR junior Finlay Drucquer, whose father Chris knows plenty about what makes a coat drive successful.

OJR Key Club Members Work to Keep Those in Need Warmer
Bags and boxes of coats donated to the Key Club coat drive filled a portion of the hallway at Owen J. Roberts High School

Local resident Chris Drucquer said his company, CertaPro Painters of the Main Line, has operated coat drives as a community project in that area during the past eight years. It expanded coverage this year to Pottstown where, he acknowledged, “there’s plenty of need.” To meet it, he suggested daughter Finlay and fellow Key Club volunteers join in the coat-gathering effort.

With “Caring, Our Way of Life” as their motto and a focus on public service, the students readily agreed. Donation boxes initially were set up at Brookside Country Club, the Red Horse Motoring Club, and at the high school’s front entrance. They discovered “there are a bunch of people with a lot of coats laying around,” Finlay said, which many hoped could “go to a great cause.”

Slowly, she noted, and then more steadily, coats of all shapes, sizes, colors, and fabrics piled up (at left), were sorted and organized, and prepared for new owners. Two organizations helped with the local distribution: Mission First, a downtown Pottstown outreach ministry that is part of Cedarville United Methodist Church; and Pottstown NAACP Branch 2288, which partnered with Mission First for an annual “Winter Essentials” clothing drive sponsored by the branch’s Women in the NAACP group.

The combined labors of CertaPro workers and Key Club members seem bound to ensure 2021 is a “banner year” for warmth, Chris said. Collecting a thousand coats is typical during most of his company’s drives, but thanks to the Key Club contributions that’s a record he believes could be broken when the final count is totaled.

Mission First Executive Director Claire Shilling considers the Key Club students “very inspiring. They truly get that there is such a great need in our community, and their willingness to help is truly appreciated. It makes my heart overflow with gratitude.” And Annette Kolb, chair of Women in the NAACP, on the branch’s Facebook page expressed thanks to Finlay for her arrival with “several (clothing-filled) bags … for this very worthwhile cause.”

“There have always been coats collected at my house,” Finlay observed, due to the charitable work of her father’s business. The seemingly ever-lasting Year of the Pandemic, however, provided what she called “a perfect opportunity” for her and Key Club members to work even harder to help neighbors in need.

OJR Key Club Members Work to Keep Those in Need Warmer

They’re continuing to do so on a regular basis. Since the start of the school year, in addition to their coat drive and no matter whether virtually or in person, Finlay said club members have hosted kids’ activities, sent greeting cards to senior citizens, and through the end of January are collecting non-perishable foods for the Mission First Emergency Food Bank.

Like the coats, there’s always a need for that, too.

Editor’s Note: this story was edited Saturday (Jan. 30) at about 12:30 p.m. for several improvements.

Photos supplied by the Drucquer family