986 coats and one furnace later…

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Caleb Postma, owner of Postma Heating and Cooling, Allie Mathews and Stephan Holland from The Salvation Army Chatham-Kent Ministries are shown with the massive pile of coats behind them donated by the public to Operation Coverup this year.

Furnace giveaway contest buries Postma in donated coats

Caleb Postma just wanted to help keep more Chatham-Kent residents warm this winter.

Little did he know his “little” contest for folks who brought in coats to Postma Heating and Cooling in an effort to fuel Operation Coverup would draw so much attention.

Postma let it be known that each coat brought in for donation to the Charing Cross Road location would earn an entry into a contest to win a free furnace and installation.

The result? Nearly 1,000 coats flew in the door.

Allie Mathews, from The Salvation Army Chatham-Kent Ministries, appreciated the effort.

“We would like to thank the teamwork of both Postma Heating and Cooling and our community for their tremendous support. We will be able to get these coats into the hands of those who need it most this winter season,” she said in a media release.

And to think Postma was worried there’d be little interest.

“I’ve never done anything like this before. I was a little bit nervous. I got my wife to go buy 30 coats just to have some to donate,” he said.

But, 986 coats later, Postma said he should have realized how Chatham-Kent operates.

“Chatham-Kent is usually pretty great at doing stuff like this anyway,” he said of donating to worthy causes, “and when you bribe them, they’re even better. This went much better than I had ever thought possible.”

The donations turned a company training room into a hoarder’s dream.

“We had a training room you could barely get into. We had 15 furnace boxes full of coats, and more,” Postma said. “It was getting a little bit out of hand.”

He said support poured in, and not just from the public.

“Postma was going to put the furnace in. But Lennox heard about it and said they’d give us the furnace,” he said of the furnace manufacturing company. “The guys here volunteered to put the furnaces in on their own time.”
That essentially left Postma, the company, on the donation sidelines. Postma, the owner, wanted to do more, so he set up a second draw, one where 100 entries would be pulled and all winners would have free maintenance on their furnaces.

“I had to up my game,” Postma said.

He admitted the contest resulted in so much support, he may not be able to make it an annual program, but that won’t stop him from seeking another worthy cause.

“We just gave them (Operation Coverup) more than double the number of coats they normally get. There’s a possibility they have enough coats for next year,” he said. “We may have to do something different for next year, but we’ll do something. It may be toys, or food, or socks or underwear.”

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