This seems to be the coldest winter in memory. Is it?
Hold on, cowboy. First of all, the solstice is December 21, so winter won’t even arrive until this weekend! Second, it depends how long your memory is, doesn’t it? Still, the recent cold snap had my smartphone buzzing in my pocket with “deep freeze” warnings. On December 4, I received a “lowest maximum temperature” alert (41 degrees), slipping by 1972’s 42 degrees, but no “lowest minimum temperature” alerts. November’s lowest minimum was 18 degrees, set in 1938.
Officially, that is. Our area’s official temperatures are measured at McCarran International Airport, elevation 2,181.4 feet. Areas in the foothills are at 2,500-3,000 feet; when I drive from Downtown to Summerlin in the winter, the reading on my car’s outside temperature gauge will often dip 10 degrees. Translation? If you live up there, it’s been cold!
Rather than donate old clothes for resale, I’d like to get them directly to the people who need them. Do you have a go-to charity?
First this message: It may sound hard to believe, but donating used goods for natural-disaster relief can hinder relief efforts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says used clothing is rarely useful because of the logistics of moving, sorting, cleaning and distributing. Aid worker Jessica Alexander reported in Slate that truckloads of disaster-related clothing donations were abandoned by the roadside after the 2004 South Asian tsunami.
That said, natural-disaster aid is very different from helping locals in wintertime need. For that, several local nonprofits organize coat drives and blanket drives. The Las Vegas Rescue Mission accepts donations of coats and blankets for direct distribution, while Catholic Charities teams up with Burlington Coat Factory from November-January; you can drop off gently used coats, or buy-and-donate there.
As for used clothing, some adventurous souls have been known to visit areas where homeless gather, bringing clothing and blankets. But that could involve risk, and can provoke fights among those in need.
As in many cases, cash is king and has the widest impact—as long as the charity you choose is reputable. And leaving clothing in donation bins really does help; Safe Nest reports that “each time a bin is filled with reusable clothing, it raises approximately $250 to support Safe Nest’s services.” Not bad at all.