Purchase photos

Cleaners put on an extra coat of caring





Hand-me-down clothes. His family didn't have much money, so that's what Norman Mermis wore as a child.

So Mermis, along with his wife and daughter, hatched a plan. They would collect, then give away coats, to as many people who wanted them.

"We wanted to help out people who needed coats, and good clean coats," Mermis, owner of Top Notch Cleaners, 201 W. Eighth, said at Saturday's 16th annual coat drive.

Master Cleaners, across the street at 200 W. Eighth, joined the fun the second year, and they've been doing it ever since. Master Cleaners collected approximately 1,000 donated coats for this year's drive, while Top Notch Cleaners had approximately 800 coats to give away. Left-over coats will be donated to charitable organizations.

Linda Beagley, Morland, was with a friend looking for coats Saturday morning.

"I'm getting coats for everybody I can think of," Beagley said.

Beagley was looking for about 10 coats in all, and found one she plans to wear while she goes fishing.

"This one is for me," she said, holding up a tan, waterproof jacket. "I fish a lot. That'll be a good fishing coat."

Just seeing the happy faces when children get their coats makes Mermis happy.

"It's great," Mermis said. "When you see some of the people come in here, especially the kids, they got a coat. Even if it doesn't fit quite right, they don't want to give it up."

Some people get a coat every fall, Mermis said.

"You get people who keep coming back every year and getting coats," said Mermis, who has given away as many as 1,200 coats in a drive. "It makes you feel good, knowing they appreciate what they're getting.

"It's a wonderful feeling to do something for somebody else, rather than always for yourself."

Lori Leiker, who has worked at Master Cleaners for 12 years, said the coat drive is a good thing.

"It's great," she said, adding she likes "the fact the people that need coats, get coats."