With community support, one Bloomington business is helping get warm winter gear into the hands of those in need through ‘The Giving Fence’

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Matt Lathrop and his wife own Retrofit Culture in Bloomington.

He said for several years now they’ve been trying to provide warm clothing for free to those in need, through The Giving Fence.

Right outside their shop on Washington Street, The Giving Fence is a way for community members to donate gently used coats and winter gear, offered for free to anyone in need.

Lathrop said his wife thought of the idea after realizing they had extra coats and winter gear they wanted to give to those who needed them.

“And she had the idea that if she put it on our fence, and invited other people to do the same, that they would, and it turns out they have,” said Lathrop.

He said they’ve had about 1,000 coats a year that have come and gone, with the community going above and beyond with their donations.

“We ask for gently used winter items, and so many coats come in looking brand new, so the community is definitely helping people have a warmer winter,” said Lathrop.

Sara Bunton donated to The Giving Fence and said it’s a great idea, especially for those looking to donate old items.

“Especially if you’re decluttering your home, through the season and your kids are growing up, and they need a different size, just to be able to give it away and give back,” said Bunton.

Lathrop said people are welcome to donate at Retrofit Culture, but they can also leave items right on the fence, he just asks those planning on donating to bring bags to hang up smaller items like hats and gloves.

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