Blanket and coat drive kicks off at Mighty Tidy Laundromat in Gulfport

By Don Culpepper - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A life sized Raggedy Ann is hard to miss for drivers along Dedeaux Road in Gulfport. The costume and the cause to collect and clean coats and blankets for those in need, are both the brainchild of Cheri Drinkard, an attendant at Mighty Tidy Maytag Laundromat in Gulfport.

"I asked Mattie, I said the laundromats usually do the coat and blanket drive, and she said that's fine," says Drinkard. "And I asked her if we could take in wipes and diapers and all that, and she said fine. And I agreed to dress up for the kids."

Mighty Tidy owner Mattie Byrd is bearing the cost of washing, drying and folding the items and delivering them herself.

"When your down and you're cold as well, that is very depressing. So, we're going to try and warm them up," says Byrd.

Along with coats and blankets, they're also collecting winter clothing, baby wipes and diapers, and cleaning supplies. All of which will go to the Gulf Coast Women and Children's Shelter for Non-Violence and the Homes of Grace drug and alcohol rehab center.

"All we need for you to do is clean out that closet and bring them on down here to us, and we will take care of them," says Byrd.

Mattie says even before Sunday's official kickoff, her loyal customers were already responding. In fact, Myra Watkins is literally giving the clothes off her back.

"My little jacket, as soon as I get out of here, it's going," says Watkins. "I've got to keep my shirt though."

Byrd says it's that spirit of giving that she feels sure everyone will want to be a part of.

"The hearts are big, very, very big," says Watkins.