WESTERN MASS. – This holiday season, Ocean State Job Lot has started their annual “Buy, Give, Get” program. Any customer who buys a warm winter coat at the store for $40 (retail value: $80-$120) and gives it back to the store as a donation to veterans in need, will get a $40 Crazy Deal Gift Card to be used for a future purchase online or at any Ocean State Job Lot store.
Last year, Ocean State donated more than 30,000 winter jackets to veterans. This year, approximately 40,000 winter coats will be available for purchase to distribute.
“What started out as a 1,500 to 2,000 coat test three years ago has blossomed into one of the largest programs of its kind serving veterans in need across the region,” said Executive Director David Sarlitto of the Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation. “I have every expectation we're going to go through 40,000 coats very quickly.”
He went on to say, “I think many people assume that veterans are being taken care of. In some regards that’s absolutely true, but in many others, we found that it’s not. These individuals raised their hand and took a pledge to support our country and if need be with their life. We feel our communities owe them a debt. There is an obligation to help support wherever we can.”
Ocean State Job Lot was founded in 1977. It’s a discount retailer that specializes in closed out end of line inventory and deep-discounted merchandise ranging from pool chemicals and kayaks to food items, clothing, household goods and pet supplies. They have 143 stores located in Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, all over New England and are now expanding in the Northeast.
The Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation was created to support the communities in which Ocean State has retail locations. They advocate for various causes that include hunger relief, children’s literacy initiatives and health and human services support.
The “Buy, Give, Get” concept first started with Wellco military boots, encouraging their customers to buy boots, donate them back and receive a gift card for the cost of the boots. In addition to making them available to their customers, Ocean State decided to donate the majority of the boots to their military partners. Soon the focus led to coats, which started with 1,500, then 2,000, then 35,000, to now 40,000.
What was most interesting and gratifying to see, Sarlitto mentioned, were the customers who received the gift cards. They would return them back and ask if they can purchase hats, gloves, scarfs and hand warmers to go with the coats.
The “Buy, Give, Get” coat program will go on through Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The coats are distributed to veterans’ organizations in partnership with a multi-state network of more than 50 veteran support agencies, organizations, assistance programs and action groups serving New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. These groups include, but are not limited to, the USA Military and Veterans Support Foundation, the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation, American Legion, VFWs (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and many others.
Next year, Ocean State plans on buying 50,000 coats.
“It’s not a burden. It’s an honor,” Sarlitto added. “We believe everybody has a responsibility to support veterans in whatever way small or large that they can and we're looking to continue to look for ways to do just that. “
Western Mass Ocean State job lot locations include:
2291 Northampton Street
Holyoke, MA 01040
231 E. Main Street
Westfield, MA 01085-3307
1451 Memorial Drive
Chicopee MA, 01020
1317 Liberty Street
Springfield MA, 01104
201 College Highway
Southwick MA, 01077
1686 Boston Road
Springfield MA, 01129
830 Curran Memorial Highway
North Adams MA, 01247
25 Hazard Avenue
Enfield CT, 06082
1178 Thorndike Street
Palmer MA, 01069
20 Main St. Unit 1, Rt 159
Windsor Locks CT, 06096