The Art Inventory

A Coat Drive, For The Good Of All

by Kirby Lindsay Laney, posted 16 October 2015


Help keep people warm this winter by donating a coat.

Help keep people warm this winter by donating a coat.

Right now, until November 7th, winter coats are being collected to benefit people served by International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Jubilee Women’s Center.  A donation of a gently used (or new) winter coat can be a tremendous help to a refugee new to our climate, and building a new life here, or a woman in need of a warm wrapper to wear as she rebuilds her life.

“I don’t see why you wouldn’t give a coat,” observed Cassie Tarver, “Everyone does have an extra coat.”  Tarver, a stylist at the Ballard location of Vain, has partnered for the 3rd Annual Coat Drive, with founder Lara Olsha, of The Sweet Spot Sugaring Studio in Fremont.

Olsha invites everyone to join in the 2015 Coat Drive, whether dropping off in Fremont, Ballard or Vain’s other locations in West Seattle and Belltown.  “It allows us to make a larger impact on our community, including helping people joining our community,” she observed.  “You are going to get something back,” and Olsha isn’t just talking about good feelings, or great karma.

Cassie Tarver and Lara Olsha have banded together to run the 2015 Coat Drive, at The Sweet Spot & Vain.  Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Oct '15

Cassie Tarver and Lara Olsha have banded together to run the 2015 Coat Drive, at The Sweet Spot & Vain. Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Oct ’15

A Reward For A Gift

Olsha has built her business here, in Fremont, building relationships with clients and other, neighboring businesses.  When she launched the first Coat Drive she talked to her neighbors, and vendors, to get prizes and incentives for donors.  This year, the list of prizes once again reads like a ‘best of’ Fremont – along with a great selection of items from shops and vendors known to Tarver.

“All are people we have a direct relationship with,” explained Olsha about the businesses that gave, and gave generously.  The prize list includes:

…along with, of course, gifts from The Sweet Spot and Vain.  The selection of gift cards, products and services will be packaged up, and each participating location will award one or two baskets of prizes to raffle winners from each location of Vain and The Sweet Spot.  Donors receive a raffle ticket for each coat they give, and winners will be drawn after November 7th.

A Gift For A Good Cause

After November 7th, the coats will be given to IRC and Jubilee – two groups that both women support strongly.

To start with, “my goal was to find ways to give back,” Olsha explained about the Coat Drive, “My time is at a premium now.  I can’t volunteer as much as I used to.”  Running a growing, and successful, business didn’t mean that she wanted to stop sharing.  “I wanted to give, especially internationally…” she said.

IRC started on the suggestion of Albert Einstein, to help the refugees of World War II.  Today, the organization responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, including helping refugees in our own area with resources to help them rebuild their lives.  Many refugees flee conflict or persecution, with nothing but their dignity, hope and determination.  IRC helps with housing, furnishings, health care, food, job building and clothing suitable to the new climate.  “My family were immigrants,” Olsha acknowledged, “I know how it can be to come to a new place.”

For the first Coat Drive, donations were so generous that IRC didn’t have to hold their own that winter.  That was when The Sweet Spot did the Coat Drive alone.  With the addition of Vain, and hopefully more donors, Olsha and Tarver decided to add another beneficiary – Jubilee.

“Vain has donated to Jubilee in the past,” Tarver said, “helping women, and those in low income, is important to me.”  Jubilee serves nearly 1,500 women in our community, those living in poverty, escaping domestic abuse, fighting substance abuse and/or seeking stability.  Jubilee provides them with safe, affordable, support services, both for the short term and the long term.  “I’m very passionate about Jubilee,” Olsha said, “It’s one of those causes that helps women and the homeless.”  When she’s taken other donations (the boutique at Jubilee can use beauty products, accessories, shoes and clothes) to Jubilee, “the women got very excited,” Olsha reported.  With the coat drive, she hopes to bring them joy and warmth, as they set out to make permanent life changes.

Partnering For Good Causes

Tarver and Olsha have been friends for years, but the Coat Drive partnership between The Sweet Spot and Vain started when, “I asked to steal her idea,” Tarver admitted.  Tarver wanted to do something, on a smaller scale, to help the community and she saw the Coat Drive as a great model.

Instead, Olsha suggested they team up.  With three locations, Vain can accept donations from all around Seattle, providing more places to drop off coats.  Certainly, Tarver has talked up the Coat Drive with her clients, “and everyone says they will be bringing in coats!”

A full-service salon, Vain has become known for use of Manic Panic fully vegan friendly hair color – and providing edgier cuts and outrageous colorings without judgement.  The woman-owned salon has a great reputation among the LGBT community, and donates services to the Youth Care Orion Center.

Vain is complementary with our own Sweet Spot, tucked in the old bakery building with another iconic Fremont business, Dave Page Cobbler.  Olsha is proud to offer sugaring services as an alternative to waxing.  “It’s an old art form that pre-dates waxing,” she explained, and is less painful and more sanitary.  The Sweet Spot also offers spray tanning, lash & brow tinting, and hydra facial services – along with selling select lines of high-quality beauty products.

Best Of All

Wherever you choose to donate, Olsha and Tarver welcome your gift.  Most donors can find gently used coats (no stains, no holes and clean,) simply by looking through their closet, but new, warm winter coats would be gratefully accepted as well.

“We have turned a few coats away,” Olsha acknowledged.  They can’t accept any worn-out coats, or any sweatshirts, but any other jackets will be enthusiastically accepted – Sweet Spot and Vain, as well as the people served by IRC and Jubilee.

Oh, and as Olsha pointed out, don’t forget that “there are awesome prizes!”



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©2015 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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