This past October The Mister Project and I threw a Halloween costume party for our friends and family. Now, typically when we throw ragers, our awesome guests bring over a bottle of wine or spirits to add to the bar. We decided for this party, however, in lieu of more things that will get us drunk, we’d offer the idea to bring something to help keep the homeless warm. That was the easy part. Next, we had to sort out where we were going to bring all of the coats our super generous friends and family brought to the party. While I was leading our retreat in Tulum, The Mister Project searched the internet. I was very eager for an organization that would get these coats directly to the homeless and those in need. As expected, TMP found the PERFECT organization, Button and Zipper. We delivered bags of coats to one of their thirty drop off sites and I immediately reached out directly to thank them for their efforts and because I wanted to learn more about this cool ass organization and how it got started. I sat down with Button and Zipper founder Ira Coleman, 30, this past week and this is what I learned.
You see, his mother was and is always giving back to the community. He was brought up to do what he can, even if it was something small to help someone, anyone in need. “The more you get, give back even more.” This is what his mom ingrained in his brain and it is exactly what he is doing. Giving back. Ira works full time in financial sales and has been with his company for nine years. Feeling fulfilled and stable within his career, he felt it was time to add to his schedule and agenda on the giving back front. He pondered for a full Sunday and in that day he came up with his concept, his organization and domain name and even the logo, which he immediately brought to a graphic designer to create. On that Sunday, in September 2013, Button and Zipper was born.
The concept behind the organization is to collect coats and jackets from individuals and corporate affiliates from October thru February and provide those who need them for the winter months. Ira and his team of volunteers work to help to get coats directly to at risk youths as well as the homeless. They either go thru other organizations who are set up to collect jackets or they go straight to the source in need. Anyone that knows a Chicago winter, knows it gets cold. Not, “oh, it’s cold outside” more like “oh my God, it’s f&$%#*@ freezing outside, why do I live here?” Well, because it’s an awesome city and also because it’s a fact that we Chicagoans want to help one another. We are a giving population and we want to see our less fortunate friends stay warm and safe during the harsh, winter months. Take a moment…imagine yourself, outside, no heat, no warmth during the Polar Vortex. Sad. Regardless of the reason they’re down and out, it’s still our part as good people to help them not freeze during the winter.
In it’s first coat drive season, Button and Zipper collected 845 coats. The following year they gathered 1,380 coats for the homeless and at risk youths. And this year, with the goal of collecting 1,500 coats, Ira and his team have met their goal and are still collecting! There are thirty drop off sites in the city and a few suburbs where individuals can take coats to donate. They also have ten corporate affiliates that work within their companies and with their employees to collect jackets to then send off to Button and Zipper. Once the coats are collected, they are stored for a short period of time at a donated storage unit at Lock Up and then sorted out by size and gender. From there, Ira and his team reach out to other non for profits to inquire about their needs and then deliver.
Ira is a cool ass dude. He’s a young, successful professional with the desire to help those in need. “I want to help build confidence in individuals lacking it due to their situation.” He tells me this right after he tells me about another project within Button and Zipper called Dress The Grad. With the help of teachers and counselors, five students who exhibit leadership skills and good grades will be chosen to go on a little shopping spree to choose an outfit (tie, jacket, blouse, skirt, shoes) so they can walk across the stage feeling confident as they accept their high school diploma. How frigging awesome is that? Love it. #LadiesHesSingle
Listen TSPeeps, go to your closets, take out what you no longer need and deliver it to Button and Zipper. Give it to someone who needs it more than the hanger it’s been hanging on for the past two years. You don’t have to stop after the holidays either! If your lover gets you a new coat for Christmas, make a delivery after the New Year. January and February are really difficult months for those in need. Your heart will explode with love after the drop off.
And as if this guy isn’t busy enough, Button and Zipper is having their first, official fundraiser and it’s going to be frigging awesome! On December 10 they are having a lip sync battle at the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville. It is a $10 cover at the door and $15 for those who want to compete with an opportunity for a $200 cash prize. I would beat sister Nicole hands down, because I have amazing interpretative dance moves. 100% of all of the proceeds will be used to by brand new coats for at risk youths. For tickets, go here!
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