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There’s a free coat exchange in Louisville and Southern Indiana this Black Friday

Racks of coats and table of warm clothes and accessories on a sidewalk
Ted Loebenberg
Coats and other goods on display at the 2022 Coat Exchange outside Garage Bar, which is also a pickup location for the exchange on Nov. 24, 2023.

The 13th annual free coat exchange will be held on Nov. 24 at seven locations around Louisville and Southern Indiana.

It’s simple, said Ted Loebenberg, who has been organizing the exchange since 2010. Those who can, donate a coat; those who need one, take one.

He recalled the expressions on two women’s faces when they found a coat they loved at the first exchange.

“They've got smiles that go from Paducah to Ashland because they were beneficiaries of mink coats,” he said.

The coat exchange has expanded to 33 drop-off sites since its inception.

Loebenberg said he began a “buy nothing” group years ago in Rhode Island as a “counterthesis” to the commercialization of the holidays.

When he moved to Louisville from Rhode Island, the concept of swapping used goods with community members stayed with him. He said he started the free coat exchange in the parking lot of the Green Building in what’s now the NuLu neighborhood.

“In the first year, we gave 300 coats away in four hours. Last year, we gave away 5,000 coats,” Loebenberg said.

Coats that aren’t claimed during the exchange are donated to nonprofit organizations across the city, he said.

Loebenberg said volunteering for the coat exchange is simple: Just come to the drop-off site.

“You don't sign up, you show up, you stay as long as you want, you go as long as you want,” he said.

Loebenberg said he’s watched the coat exchange take on a life of its own because of the good it’s done in many Louisville communities.

The free coat exchange runs from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at seven locations across the area, and the initiative is collecting coats until Black Friday.

More information on how to host a coat exchange is here. For a list of drop-off and pick-up locations, click here.

Divya is LPM's Race & Equity Reporter. Email Divya at dkarthikeyan@lpm.org.

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