Love's Coat Drive Continues To Grow, Impact Community

Love's Coat Drive Continues To Grow, Impact Community

Kevin Love rolled up to the Salvation Army's Central Avenue location on Tuesday afternoon with a special delivery in tow. His SUV was packed to the ceiling with donated coats from fans and supporters across the region, and it was only a sample size of the more than 4,500 coats received since Nov. 16.

There’s no question that the Sixth Annual Kevin Love Coat Drive was the most successful yet.

“I’m kind of at a loss for words,” Love said. “It’s really great to see something that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into, and a lot of people have helped and come together on. It’s a big deal, and it’s really great.”

Love began the initiative as a rookie in 2008—being a guy who grew up on the West Coast and played his college ball in Los Angeles, he was new to the frigid Midwestern winters as a 20-year-old entering the league. Wanting to make an impact in some way across the community, Love began his coat drive through the Timberwolves’ FastBreak Foundation in hopes that young kids in need would benefit from the generosity of others.

But even he might not have realized what it has grown to as of December 2013. It began with a modest 400-plus in 2008. Last year was the previous record with more than 2,500 donated coats. Overall, it is estimated the coat drive has produced more than 11,000 donated coats in six years.

Hope for the City ensured a record this year, donating 2,500 coats right away.

On Tuesday, Love was greeted by approximately 15 kids benefiting from the coat drive at the Salvation Army. They were in the gymnasium shooting around when they heard Love had arrived with the coats—which he transported from downtown Minneapolis—and ran to the door to greet him. The kids, along with volunteers from the Salvation Army, helped Love bring the coats inside to the gym.

Love thanked the kids for helping out, gave them tickets to the Wolves’ Jan. 1 game against New Orleans, took pictures and signed autographs during his time at the Salvation Army.

It’s a day Love looks forward to during his year, because it’s a direct way he’s able to help ensure a warm holiday season and beyond for these local children.

“If I’m remembered as just a basketball player at the end of the day, I haven’t done my job,” Love said. “The Kevin Love Annual Coat Drive is just a way to give back. I’m really proud of it, and I am proud of the people of Minnesota and beyond.”

Part of the experience is nostalgia, too. Growing up in Oregon, Love admired players on the Portland Trail Blazers—the Wolves’ opponent tonight at Target Center—and other local athletes. He remembers being in that position growing up, and getting to meet a professional athlete is always a big thrill for children. That was certainly the case on Tuesday, as kids were incredibly excited while anticipating Love’s arrival.

He understands that face-to-face interaction means a lot, too.

“Everybody is coming together—not just me, it’s the Timberwolves organization, the Salvation Army, Hope for the City,” Love said. “Even donating one more coat was going to be a record breaking year. Having more than 4,000, that’s just unheard of. Hopefully we can keep growing every year, and it was just a great day at the Salvation Army.”

The Coat Drive has taken on its own identity over these past six years. It’s grown in popularity because of its impact and because of the humorous in-arena videos that raise awareness and draw additional interest. Love’s personality shines through during those videos, and it shines through even more during his interaction with the kids on drop off day.

Today is officially the final day to drop off coats for the Coat Drive, and fans are still encouraged to bring new or gently-used coats to the Target Center Box Office. Throughout the coat drive, Love and the Wolves have thanked fans who donate by giving them a pair of tickets to either the New Orleans game on Jan. 1 or the Suns game on Jan. 8.

There’s still time to make a difference and help continue the program’s success.

“In times of need, these kids are in need of some warm winter coats,” Love said. “So the fact that people paid it forward a little bit, it makes me happy. It’s something bigger than basketball.”

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