Crittenton Gives Out Free Winter Clothing in Wheeling

Staff members donate items for the cause

Photo by Alex Meyer Coats and other winter clothing on display near the corner of Chapline Street and 20th Street in Downtown Wheeling on Thursday morning. Residential clients of Crittenton Services collected the donated items to give to those in need.

WHEELING — As temperatures hovered around the 20s on Thursday, those in need of warmth were able to find some through winter clothing hanging on a fence in downtown Wheeling.

Coats, winter hats and boots could be seen hanging at a fence near the corner of Chapline Street and 20th Street on Thursday alongside written messages saying “Free to Everyone” and “Stay Warm Wheeling.”

The donated coats were part of an effort by Crittenton Services, an agency that offers trauma-informed services to help young girls, children and families. Residential clients of the agency collected coats to give to those in need and placed them by the fence on Wednesday, said Kaitlynne Rader, director of marketing.

“The idea of giving out free winter items was started last year with the girls and staff at Crittenton,” Rader said. “Now they hope to make it an annual activity to remind the community that even if you have very little, you still have something to give.”

The items, donated by Crittenton staff and their families, are free to anyone in need in downtown Wheeling. Residents have already added items to the display, Rader said, and the girls plan to add more to it next week.

The site features messages written on pieces of paper and on the sidewalk with chalk that say “God is blessing you with warmth,” “you make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give” and the hashtag #StayWarmWhg.

“We wanted to help the community and advocate awareness,” said Rachel Valentine, activities director at Crittenton. “Our girls got emotional, they loved the experience.”

The agency provides care through residential programs for girls and young women and outpatient counseling services in West Virginia communities.

“Our clients come from traumatic backgrounds and I think it’s almost comforting for them to be able to give back. It helps the community as a whole,” Rader said.

Crystal Bauer, director of the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department’s Project HOPE, or Homeless Outreach Partnership Effort, said she visited the site, which she calls the “blessing fence,” on Thursday morning and saw more items had been added.

“I am really inspired by the kindness of these young ladies,” Bauer said.

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