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When winter comes to Nebraska harsh weather comes with it.

As the snow starts to fall and temperatures begin to drop, we bundle up in heavy coats, thick mittens and warm stocking hats.

Unfortunately for some in Fremont and Dodge County, access to basic winter essentials such as hats, coats and gloves can be hard to come by.

That’s where agencies like Uniquely Yours Stability Support (UYSS) can help lend a hand and a coat.

UYSS, which provides programs and housing assistance to local residents, was able to provide 135 coats to those in need this winter through their Warmer Winter event held in November.

“Last year, we did not do a coat drive because we already had so many,” said UYSS CEO Robin Ritter.

“This year, we felt like we weren’t going to have enough coats, but thanks to the Keene Memorial Library, Salem Lutheran Church youth group, Nazarene youth group and lots of people throughout the community who did the drive for us, we had such an unbelievable amount of coats and clothes to give away,” she said.

While the second annual event provided 135 coats in only three hours, as well as 127 books, UYSS still has a surplus of available coats, hats, gloves, bedding and other necessities available to families in need at no cost.

“The coats are still coming in,” Ritter said. “If a family has someone at home whether it be kids or an older family member, they don’t have to haul everybody in to get the coats, they can just come in and get whatever they need.”

Those who have a need for hats, coats, gloves and bedding can pick up those items from UYSS from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. any Tuesday, Thursday or Friday at their location at 240 N. Main St.

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UYSS is a privately funded nonprofit, meaning they get no state or federal assistance. So along with relying on material donations from the public, the agency also welcomes financial donations and people willing to volunteer their time for a good cause.

“The community has really embraced giving those tangible items so we have so many coats, clothes and bedding,” Ritter said. “We have tons of those items, but it’s the donors understanding that even for our agency to have a safe place for families and children to come in there is a cost associated with that.”

To donate to UYSS individuals can go to the organization’s Facebook page or their website uyss.org and click the donate button. Donations are also accepted through mail and in person at their facility.

“Time sometimes is also as valuable as money, so we can always use volunteers to help within the agency,” Ritter said. “We always work really hard to make it a good fit, whether it’s helping with the children’s group, helping answer phones, sorting clothing, whatever it may be.”

UYSS also has several events coming up in January, including a parenting support group called Parents Empowerment Group (PEG) on Jan. 3, as well as nutrition education classes taught by University of Nebraska Extension educators on Jan. 17, with classes held on the third Tuesday of each month throughout the year. Both classes are free to attend.

“Community collaboration is the heart of what we do here,” Ritter said. “As a community resource center to have the community embrace what they know that these families need and to use us as a venue to ensure that the families get what they need is what were designed for, so it’s a blessing.”

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