Isla Vista Needs an Initiative Like “The One Warm Coat Drive”

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Spencer Wu
Copy Editor

When a cold front or rainy weather hits Goleta during the winter months, residents know they are in for a rough time. In particular, Isla Vista’s houseless population is particularly vulnerable to winter chills and wetness.

An initiative jointly started by Patterson Self-Storage in Goleta and Ablitt’s Fine Cleaners & Launderers in Santa Barbara is looking to mitigate the damage to houseless citizens brought along by unbecoming weather conditions. The storage center and dry cleaning companies, respectively, teamed up to provide community residents with blankets and coats. With the imminent presence of colder weather, it is time for Isla Vista to adopt a program similar to this one.

Dubbed “The One Warm Coat Drive,” the initiative has gathered over 800 coats since it began six years ago, according to a profile of the drive in The Santa Barbara Independent. Articles of clothing that are donated are dry cleaned before being dispersed, with excess pieces remaining in storage until there is a demand for them.

Turbulent weather often affects the homeless and lower-income individuals the most. According to Intellicast, Goleta’s average low temperature in December is 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with record lows reaching 30 degrees Fahrenheit in 2004. Compound this with the high average precipitation rate in winter months (2.26” in December, 3.57” in January, and 4.28” in February), and it is easy to see why initiatives like “The One Warm Coat Drive” are imperative to the community.

Even though Isla Vista has similar humanitarian programs in place such as homeless shelters and food pantries, the community should still look to adopt a program similar to “The One Warm Coat Drive.” Considering the estimated 1,489 homeless people to live in I.V. in 2017 and countless low-income families and students in the area, there is an obvious niche that needs to be filled.

A “Coats for the Cold” program could possibly see the light of day through efforts by organizations such as the Associated Students Food Bank or community staples like the Isla Vista Food Cooperative. These entities already serve to assist the community in a variety of ways, so a seasonal initiative to wrangle in clothing garments to the mix does not seem too far-fetched.

Alternatively, the University of California, Santa Barbara could allocate student fees in a way that funds a campus-wide initiative to provide clothing for underprivileged people. That way, students could support their own rendition of “The One Warm Coat Drive,” much like they fund programs through A.S.

The Isla Vista community already does a stellar job of providing many readily available resources for lower-income students and residents. Something as simple as an overcoat could easily be overlooked in favor of more seemingly pressing matters like food and shelter. But a program like “The One Warm Coat Drive” is put in place to ensure that everyone can enjoy warm holiday cheer in Santa Barbara; Isla Vista should follow suit.