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Sharing warmth for winter

Operating out of the Room of Requirement, Queen's Winter Coat Exchange continues to help students in need of winter clothing.

[Laura Lee in the Room of Requirement]
Laura Lee, Deputy of Environmental Affairs under the Alma Mater Society’s Social Issues Commission, says the Queen's Winter Coat Exchange in the Room of Requirement has seen regular use throughout the winter. (University Communications)

Staying warm during these cold winter days isn’t easy. It’s even more difficult if you can’t afford a proper winter coat, gloves, or a scarf and hat.

This is a reality for some students at Queen’s and is the reason that the Queen’s Winter Coat Exchange was created three years ago by Heather Poechman, a former master’s student and peer advisor with the International Programs Office at the university. Ms. Poechman has graduated and moved on from Queen’s but her project remains.

Operated out of the Room of Requirement, which provides school supplies, clothing, and household items for students in need, the Queen’s Winter Coat Exchange is now headed up by Laura Lee, Deputy of Environmental Affairs under the Alma Mater Society’s Social Issues Commission.

The need for warm winter clothing remains, Ms. Lee says, and with the extreme cold lately, many coats have been picked up by students and there are fewer available at the moment.

“There’s been a pretty large interest in Queen’s Winter Coat Exchange from students, especially with the continuing cold weather,” she says. “To help meet this demand we’ve been reaching out and visiting various shops around Kingston to raise awareness about Queen’s Winter Coat Exchange and let them know how they can donate.”

She has received donations from local stores Roots, Phase 2, Cloth, Cash for Clothes and Value Village but says she would still like to see a greater supply of winter clothing.

For Queen’s community members looking to help out, donating is easy.

Any winter clothing in good condition can be dropped off at the Room of Requirement – Room 238 in the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC), Monday -Sunday, 8 am-midnight – or at the Social Issues Commission Office within the AMS Office, Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-5:30 pm.

Students looking to use the coat exchange can visit the Room of Requirement during the same hours. No appointment is necessary.

The Room of Requirement is open throughout the academic year and accepts and offers a wide selection of items from binders and other school supplies to household items and clothing. A list of accepted and non-accepted items is available on the Room of Requirement’s Facebook page.

“At the beginning of the academic year, the use of the Room of Requirement was at its highest because students were coming in to get a lot of school supplies. Many students also used the Room of Requirement to get household items as they moved into their houses at the beginning of the year,” Ms. Lee says. “Generally throughout the rest of the year, the usage of the room is pretty steady as students come in and take what they need when they need it.”

The program also contributes to the overall sustainability of Queen’s, reusing and extending the lifetime of the donated items.

Through her work on the Room of Requirement and Queen’s Winter Coat Exchange, Ms. Lee knows that the projects are making a difference for Queen’s students.

“Overall the response I receive is positive. I was talking with one student the other day when I was adding some clothes to the room and he said he was so happy that he found out about Queen’s Room of Requirement because he didn’t have to buy a binder since then,” she explains. “It’s really great to know there is a continuous impact on students, and that they can benefit from the service throughout their time at Queen’s.”

For more information, visit the Facebook page or contact Ms. Lee through the Social Issues Commission email.