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Black Friday Also Means Collecting Coats for Those in Need in Louisville


Black Friday is widely known as the busiest shopping day of the year. People race to stores as early as possible to beat crowds. The crowds are already there. They want best bargains, but those might already be sold out.One Louisville resident is trying to change that mindset of super-spending and persuade people to give back to the community through a Free Coat Exchange. A Rhode Island native, Ted Loebenberg moved to Louisville six years ago and in 2010 he began the Free Coat Exchange in effort to build on the success the program attained in the Northeast. During the inaugural year, he said more than 200 coats were collected and given away to those in need. The Free Coat Exchange has continued to expand since then. The exchange, Loebenberg said, is based on the idea that someone in Louisville has a coat they do not need —and someone needs a coat they do not have. “It’s very important to give back to the community and this is a no-brainer way to do it,” he said. Several locations throughout Louisville and Southern Indiana will be collecting coats and distributing coats on Nov. 29 from 10 am. to 1 p.m. Loebenberg said the exchange falls on Black Friday with inspiration from Buy Nothing Day, an international day of protesting consumerism. “I’m old enough to remember when the holidays didn’t start until after Thanksgiving,” he said. “Instead of running to the mall like maniacs, let’s do this and let’s give back to the community.” Residents are encouraged to donate coats, hats, gloves and scarves to the exchange. Loebenberg said if you need any of these items, to stop by one of the locations. “Find the one you want on the racks, take it and say, 'Thank you,” he said. “I don’t want to see a driver license, I don’t want a note from your mother-in-law, I don’t’ want to see your in the WIC program or you’re on welfare, no questions asked. It’s just a very simple, clean, give and take. ” No money will be accepted, no sponsors are being sought. Volunteers are welcome, but Loebenberg said there is no pressure to stay longer than you would like. He expects nearly 3,000 coats to be exchanged this year. Loebenberg said he believes this program can make a difference in the lives of people who do not have everything they need to keep warm in the winter. “Those who have, have too much,” he said. “Only in America do people trample each other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.” For more information about volunteering or to find an exchange site nearest you, visit the website at www.freecoatexchange.org.

Jacob Ryan is an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.