The season’s first snowflakes have fallen around Chittenden County, and with them come freezing temperatures. That’s why the Milton High School Interact Club is holding its second annual winter gear drive. The club is accepting winter clothing donations to benefit local families through December 7, according to Interact Club faculty leader Angela King.

“We want to help people who … don’t have the means to buy winter stuff,” club president and MHS senior Isabella Anemikos said. “Oftentimes, it can be really expensive.”

Community members may donate winter gear of all types and sizes by placing them in bins near the main entrance of each Milton school. The clothing will then be transported to Milton Family Community Center where it will find new homes with Miltonians in need.

The drive began last Monday and has already garnered coats and boots, according to Anemikos. But she’s hoping donations will pick up and surpass those of the inaugural event. Though all articles are appreciated, there is an especially strong need for children’s clothing.

“Kids grow in and out of clothes rather quickly,” King said. “Trying to keep up with the growing kids in our community is a necessity.”

The event itself spawned from conversations between King and Interact club members, she said. Inspired by the chilly air, the students brainstormed a way to outfit those who would otherwise brave the cold in offseason apparel.

“We thought about [a] mitten tree,” King said. “Then we said, ‘Well, why don’t we do something a little bit bigger than just mittens?’”

She hopes her students learn about community needs and realize there are many ways to help others. Plus, compassion just feels good, she said.

“I hope that intrinsic feeling that they get from giving back is there for them so that they will continue to give back even as they progress out of school,” King said.

Indeed, goodwill has already become stitched into the fabric of Anemikos’ high school experience. Her sister encouraged her to join Interact as a freshman, but helping others keeps her coming—and leading the group—three years later. 

She and her 20 fellow Interact pals have lived by the organization’s goal of helping town, state and country. They’ve even helped international communities, collaborating with the Colchester Milton Rotary Club to purchase specialized tricycles for polio survivors in Nigeria.

Around town, the group held a food drive during the fall homecoming football game, which provided three shopping carts’ worth of food to the MFCC food shelf, King said. Students also raised funds for breast cancer awareness and will soon hold their annual candy cane-gram fundraiser to purchase toys that will be donated to Toys for Tots,  she added.

In the coming weeks Anemikos hopes Miltonians will consider ditching the dumpster and giving their winter gear a second chance through Interact.

“Why not donate it to your own community when it can be used here and there’s people here who need it?” she said.