Big Bundle Up collects over 103K winter clothing items

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Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News (From left): Visit Beloit Director of Operations Pam Garland-Gjestson and Visit Beloit CEO Celestino Ruffini sort through donations to Visit Beloit's contribution for Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Big Bundle Up winter clothing drive. Visit Beloit collected nearly 100 items to be distributed by Caritas in Beloit. Around 60 agencies participated in the state. Statewide totals are expected later this month.

BELOIT - Another year, another success.

Multiple groups helped pitch in to gather winter clothing items as part of an annual statewide donation campaign.

The Wisconsin Department of Tourism wrapped up its Big Bundle Up winter clothing drive that started in November.

To date, the statewide effort has collected more than 103,400 winter clothing items, according to Travel Wisconsin. The Big Bundle Up is in its seventh year. Tourism officials said the campaign partnered with over 60 agencies across the state to organize donations.

Visit Beloit invited residents to donate new or gently used coats, sweaters, hats, mittens and other warm clothing during the drive. This year Visit Beloit collected 97 adult and child winter clothing donations, according to Visit Beloit Director of Operations and Community Relations Pam Garland-Gjestson.

Groups that participated included Caritas, Salvation Army and Family Promise of Greater Beloit, with the School District of Beloit accepting donations across the district.

The United Church of Beloit offered its woolly tree for residents to donate handmade items or new hats, gloves and mittens, and all donations are given to students at Hackett Elementary School.

Pastor Steve Erkel said this year's drive saw helpful donations for students in need.

"This year was great for us. It was very successful and we filled it with scarves, mittens and hats," Erkel said.

The church has collected for Hackett students for over 10 years, Erkel said.

The school district also collected food gift cards to area restaurants and they help students secure meals on nights and on weekends and help provide them with a safe and warm place to do homework.

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