Warm the People: Knot Haus continues tradition of offering free winter clothes to those in need
By Joan Laabs
Tomahawk Main Street Inc. Volunteer
TOMAHAWK – If a coat could talk, what might it say to a lady in need? Perhaps, “Put your arms inside my sleeves, and I will keep you warm.”
If a special little jacket could smile, what message could that send to a little girl or boy? Maybe, “You can wear me to school tomorrow and feel like you too are special.”
If a heavy coat could reach out, what would it tell the man on the street? How about, “Wear me to work and know that someone gave this coat to lighten your load and to lighten your day with hope.”
“Warm the People” began in 2019 as a charitable program founded by The Knot Haus Gift Gallery in Tomahawk. According to the business owner Char Andreachi, “I had attended a Tomahawk Main Street meeting at Tomahawk Community Bank that included discussions about community needs. I was surprised to find out how many homeless folks, as well as families with basic needs, lived in our community.”
Andreachi envisioned a program that in some way would involve anonymous donors and anonymous recipients. It was then that the idea of an outdoor coat rack was born.
“People are people, instead of customers, when they drop off a coat or choose a coat or jacket from the outdoor rack in front of The Knot Haus,” Andreachi stated.
The coats and jackets hang inside a protective plastic sheet, and they remain outdoors every day around the clock. Each morning before she opens her store, Andreachi counts all of the coats and all of the empty hangers so she knows how many items have been shared. From those numbers, Andreachi can tell that from late fall until early spring, the coats are calling out: “Take me if you need me, take me if you want me.”
That is exactly what happens.
During that first seasonal period in 2019-2020, over 200 coats and jackets were chosen by people in need. This November, 40 coats were chosen in that one month alone, and over 200 so far for the first part of the 2020-2021 season.
“Folks are now also dropping off caps, gloves, mittens, scarves and boots so several totes and boxes have now been added for those items,” Andreachi said.
The Knot House also shares items with the Tomahawk Food Pantry if they have individuals or families who need items from the outdoor rack.
What does it mean when a Tomahawk Main Street business reaches out to those in need? And what does the “not-so-silent” connection of donors and recipients say about our community? If the coats could talk, they might echo a Main Street slogan: “Tomahawk Together – It’s a Tradition!”
And what can be said about Char Andreachi? She strives to make a difference in her “little spot in the world.” Apparently, that little spot is managed by a big heart. The program she initiated has expanded her original vision as it continues to successfully “Warm the People.”