There are several local businesses that join in on the Keep KELOLAND Warm effort each year providing much needed coats for those in need. One woman, who lives near Beresford, has been volunteering her time and talents to make sure those who need bigger sizes are taken care of. She owns Dakota Jackets Etcetera.
In the country, north of Beresford, Tami Francis tends to her calves and, at the same time, the needs of her customers.
Working from a shop inside her home, Francis creates custom jackets. She’s been doing it for five years.
“It doesn’t matter really what size the jacket is. I can figure it out,” Francis said.
When she heard about Keep KELOLAND Warm and the need for larger sizes, the former interpreter for the deaf stitched up plans to help.
“Oh I think it’s extraordinarily important, especially for the part with the extra sizes. Those coats get really, really expensive,” Francis said.
She’s been contributing to the project for two years and has custom made six coats this year, one as big as 6X.
“Gives people an opportunity that can’t get that size. The thing that I found that’s kind of neat is the people that are in wheelchairs. They need something different on the bottom done to their jackets to stay warm and they want a jacket and so I’m able to alter things like that,” Francis said.
“It’s so inspiring to see so many people that have gotten that spirit of giving like Tami has,” KELOLAND Media Group Director of Marketing & Creative Services Paul Farmer said.
Farmer says Tami’s work sews up what used to be a hole that was hard to fill.
“There are sometimes where we run out of the bigger sizes or someone can’t find that special coat. She has stepped forward and said I’ll just make them a coat. Give me their size and I’ll just make it for them,” Farmer said.
For Francis, it’s her way of using her talents to give back.
“You got to give back where you can. God gives you gifts. I didn’t know I could make coats. I knew I could sew but I didn’t know I could make coats. God’s kind of taken it from there. Put things in my lap,” Francis said.
And she’s putting coats on those in need.
Francis plans on continuing to create larger sized coats for Keep KELOLAND Warm in the future. She says the earlier the requests for custom coats come in through the project, the better.