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17,155 items of winter clothing
Big Bundle Up gets donations, including at Platteville chamber
Platteville Area Chamber of Commerce President Tom Sigwarth, Executive Director Kathy Kopp and President-Elect Tim Boldt are pictured at the chamber office, one of the collection points for The Big Bundle Up winter clothing drive.

Wisconsin residents can “bundle up” better this winter thanks to the generous donations of Wisconsin residents and travelers through the Department of Tourism’s “Big Bundle Up” campaign.

A grand total of 17,155 warm clothing items, including hats, scarves, coats and mittens, were donated to more than 80 different charities throughout Wisconsin. The total amount was more than five times what was collected during last year’s campaign.

One of the collection points was the Platteville Area Chamber of Commerce office.

“We are so proud of the tourism industry’s overwhelming support and enthusiasm and the generosity of Wisconsin residents and travelers,” said Gov. Scott Walker. “Last year’s ‘mitten debate’ with Michigan turned into a positive initiative that has only continued to grow. We thank everyone for keeping that momentum going.”

The campaign, which stemmed from last year’s “Great Lakes Mitten Campaign,” invited the public to donate new and gently used winter items to Travel Wisconsin Welcome Centers, participating chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus and local businesses. Tourism partners then donated the collected items to local and community charitable organizations and shelters.

“We are thrilled with the creativity and commitment of our tourism partners in making this a tremendous success,” said Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. “As an added benefit, it drew tons of people to the state’s many tourist information centers where they could learn more about all the great travel opportunities we have to offer.”

Old World Wisconsin received numerous handmade scarves and mittens from local individuals. Tourism organizations also successfully collaborated with their local partners and businesses. Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau worked with Ho-Chunk Gaming to combine their Cold Hands, Warm Hearts drive. In addition, Door County teamed up with their eight local visitor centers to help spread the word and serve as collection sites.

A few private businesses and organizations stepped up as well. ZooZatZ, a Minnesota company, donated 2,300 cheesehead and Badger-themed hats and earmuffs that were passed on to the Boys and Girls Club of Eau Claire as well as local schools and charities in the Chippewa Valley region. Wisconsin Knitwear, a Milwaukee-based company, generously provided 500 knit hats that were donated to The United Way of Greater Milwaukee. A collection drive was also held at Lambeau Field prior to the start of the Dec. 9 Packers game.

Last year’s Great Lakes Mitten Campaign drew national media coverage and generated a collection of more than 3,100 winter items for Wisconsin charities. The initiative won four national media and public relations awards, including the prestigious U.S. Travel Mercury Award.