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Omaha women collect donations to boost Salvation Army program

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    Omaha, NE (WOWT) — Two Omaha women are giving a much-needed boost to the Salvation Army’s Winter Night Watch program. Colleen Haack and her sister-in-law, Theresa, are collecting winter clothing to donate to people in need, and they’re doing it right from Colleen’s doorstep.

The Winter Night Watch program, which runs from December to February, takes help right to the streets. Through the Salvation Army’s mobile pantries, volunteers hand out food and winter wear to homeless or near homeless people in the community. This year, COVID-19 has changed the way the items are given out – for example, the clothing and food are now placed on a table and the recipient walks up and takes what they need – but the pandemic hasn’t changed the big need for these items this time of year.

“When you have nothing and you’re one of our most marginalized neighbors, staying warm is a challenge, especially this time of year,” said Maj. Adam Moore with the Salvation Army Western Division.

Theresa Haack is a volunteer for the Winter Night Watch program. She sees the need firsthand.

“We were doing it one night and we didn’t have any more coats for men to hand out and you just go ‘oh this isn’t right.’ It’s heart-wrenching that they don’t have a coat,” she said.

It was that interaction that inspired her to put a donation box out on her porch around Christmas, which then inspired her sister-in-law to do the same.

Colleen has been collecting donations for a week, getting the word out on a neighborhood app.

“Every morning I walk out to the box and it’s been empty the night before and there are garbage bags full of clothes there,” Colleen said. “I’m just overwhelmed with the responses.”

So far she’s collected more than 25 bags that are piled up in her garage. The Salvation Army plans to pick them up next week, after which they’ll go to needy folks in the community.

“It was a great way to get a lot of things for people who are needy. You give them a hot meal and then something tangible where they can say ‘this is mine, I now have a blanket, I have a coat, mittens.’ It’s something that melts your heart,” said Theresa.

“It really does offer hope and it lets them know that they’re not forgotten,” said Maj. Moore.

The sisters-in-law hope the giving spirit they’ve put on display continues to spread.

“To be able to give back to somebody who needs something is a feel-good for me,” said Colleen. “This has given Theresa and I a lot of joy.”

“It’s an easy way to do good in the world,” said Theresa.

If you’re interested in donating to the Salvation Army or volunteering for one of its programs, you can find more information on their website.

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