TOTM CU Elks coat drive

In 2018, Champaign-Urbana Elks Lodge members Mary Leming, left, and Rich Woolworth, right, delivered a check for $1,975 to Urbana Police Sgt. Jay Loschen for the Urbana FOP Lodge 70's Shop With A Cop program.

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Coordinating the annual Champaign-Urbana Elks Lodge coat drive — now in its 10th year — is an easy ask of Mary Leming.

While working for the Urbana School District in the late 1980s, she experienced firsthand scores of children lacking the basics to combat cold weather.

“It was a need back then,” said Leming, 66. “It’s even more of a need today.”

The Warm Coats For Kids Monetary Collection Drive kicked off Monday and continues through Oct. 14. Like last year, organizers are asking for donations to be either mailed or dropped off at the Elks Lodge at 903 N. Dunlap in Savoy (3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday).

Last year, the Elks presented a check for $1,975 to the Urbana FOP Lodge 70 for its popular and productive Shop With A Cop program. The goal this year: $2,000.

On Friday night at the Elks, a 50/50 raffle netted $500 in two hours.

“We’re off to a great start,” Leming said.

Even if it’s 90 degrees out, which makes it seem a bit odd to be talking winter coats.

“Mother nature doesn’t like to cooperate, does she?” Leming said. “But it’s important to kick this off early.”

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Jim Rossow is vice president of news at The News-Gazette. His email is