Winter coats for all

The Diamondville Pizza Hut has been gathering coats and other winter necessities for those who need them. Anyone is welcome to come and take a jacket, pair of gloves, scarf or hat off of the rack. // Photo by Jayni Holwuttle.

Dani Whittaker, general manager of Diamondville Pizza Hut, has been with Pizza Hut for a long time. She has worked at locations in Florida, Georgia, Utah and Wyoming. One of the things she loves is Pizza Hut’s willingness to fundraise and help others.

“Pizza Hut is really good about allowing me to fundraise and get involved in the community,” Whittaker said. “That is one of the main reasons I’ve been with them for so long. If I could make a living fundraising, I would.”

The Diamondville Pizza Hut is currently doing a coat drive for those who need winter coats. Customers can leave a jacket on the coat rack just inside the door or take one if they need it.

“There are coats, scarves, hats and gloves in bins and on the rack just inside the front door,” Whittaker said. “We wanted to make sure people didn’t have to come all the way into the restaurant and could just take a coat without anyone noticing.”

Whittaker said the drive was slow to start up but now they have a full rack with bins that are almost full as well.

“In a couple of weeks we will go through them and take all the smaller sizes to the schools for kids who come to school without a jacket,” Whittaker said. She said that she has been letting agencies around town such as WIC and Turning Point know that the coats are available to anyone who needs one.

Whittaker said she has been a general manager in restaurants for over 30 years.

“Within all my years, I have seen a lot of struggle,” Whittaker said. “Different people have different struggles. They just need empathy and understanding.”

Whittaker said she is glad that she is able to help this community, as well as others, through various forms of drives and fundraising. She said she always wants to help those who need it.

“Even though this is a small community, there are still people out there that are struggling,” Whittaker said. “Everybody is somebody’s kid.”

The coat drive isn’t the only program at the Diamondville Pizza Hut this winter; they will be fundraising for the holidays and into January. Starting in November, Pizza Hut will take donations of unwrapped toys. Whittaker said they will make sure all the foster kids in the area have toys and then she will contact the schools about families with whatever toys are left.

“The more toys we get, the more families we can help this holiday season,” Whittaker said.

In January, they also plan on having a food drive.

“January is when the food banks are the lowest,” Whittaker said. “We just want to help wherever we can.”