Perhaps it was the holiday spirit that did the trick. Or maybe it was simply the generous nature of local residents when they heard about a young man's quest to collect 100 coats for children in need.
It may have started out slow, but in the eleventh hour of Life Scout Jacob Balcerzak's coat drive, he reached his goal of collecting 100 coats — and then tripled it.
"I think that was cool," the Hudson High sophomore said Tuesday evening.
Working toward his Boy Scouts Citizen in the Community merit badge, Jacob launched the coat drive in October at three public locations. He came up with the idea after sifting through his own closet last winter looking for a coat to help a boy he often saw walking to school in shorts and T-shirts during shivering temperatures.
Jacob and his mother, Tammy Balcerzak, handed out fliers about the coat drive, slated to run through Dec. 13. In two months he had collected about 30 coats. Several came from his Boy Scout Troop 79, based at the Angelus in Hudson, and a few more were ones he and his mom bought at thrift stores.
After people read a Dec. 3 Times article about Jacob's efforts, however, the collection boxes at Veterans Memorial Park, Northwest Elementary and Hudson Regional Library overflowed. Emails inquiring about the drive filled the troop's inbox.
Jacob couldn't believe his eyes when he saw all donations. Someone even donated eight new coats with the tags still on them. And it wasn't just coats, either. They received gloves and hats, new socks and tons of sweaters.
"I was thinking these are a lot of coats and that I can help a lot of people now," Jacob said.
His mom was stunned by the renewed response, too.
"I never in a million years imagined he was going to get 100," she said.
For days they sorted the coats by sizes before dropping them off at more schools than they expected, including Hudson Middle and High schools, Northwest Elementary, Chasco Middle and Elementary schools and Bayonet Point Middle.
They had so many coats, they donated some to the Volunteer Way food bank and the Holy Ground homeless shelter in Hudson.
And on Tuesday night, Jacob received his merit badge.