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Volunteer Spotlight: Holly Hartshorne's Warm-Up Act

Posted on Tuesday, December 05, 2017
By: Julia VanTine
Categories: Spotlights

In August 2012, in the midst of the Great Recession, Holly Hartshorne lost her job at a small local company. The loss was traumatic; at age 57, the marketing professional wasn’t hopeful about landing another.

But before the end of that difficult year, she’d gained something priceless: a purpose. We gained something, too: a dedicated volunteer.

Facing the prospect of unemployment and empty days to fill, the Morgantown resident “needed a diversion from my own problems,” she says. A girlfriend had started a coat drive the year before, in honor of an in-law afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s disease. “In talking with her, I decided to start my own coat drive in Reading,” says Hartshorne.  

She registered with the national nonprofit organization, One Warm Coat, and launched her own one-woman drive. In that first drive, she collected 200 coats, and distributed them here at the House, as well as at Safe Berks (formerly Berks Women in Crisis) and City Lights Ministries.  

Five years later, Hartshorne is still at it. The Reading Eagle, Goggleworks, and the Reiffton school system collect coats for her drive each year. So do various area libraries.

The good news: now she has some help. “I drafted my husband,” she laughs. This winter, they filled their van with coats four times. That meant that 263 people—here as well as at those other shelters—will be able to button or zip  up against the cold. 

“I always love coming to Opportunity House,” says Hartshorne. “Every year some of the residents come out to help unload my van.  I gave one fellow a ride to the Reading Library one year.  He told me his story on the way there and it both opened my eyes and broke my heart.  I still send up a prayer every now and then for him and others in similar situations.” 

Hartshorne never did return to the 9-to-5 routine. These days, she helps out with her grandkids—“almost a full-time job in itself,” she laughs--and plans her coat drive each year. “I find it so uplifting,” she says. “There’s so much need in the world—in our own community. I am glad I can do something to help.”


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Opportunity House

430 North 2nd Street
Reading, PA 19601

Phone: (610) 374.4696
Fax: (610) 374.3165