Winnetka, Community

Small Winnetka cafe welcomes big turnout with annual coat drive

Talk about community warmth. 

Despite limited hours amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Winnetka’s Cafe Fleurette collected dozens and dozens of winter coats for the less fortunate this season. 

Owner Rachel Beaudry said she wasn’t expecting such prolific giving given the circumstances.

“I can’t believe people brought that many in this time,” said Beaudry, who’s been running the coat drive for three years. “It’s different when you see customers every day and can remind them to clean out their closet. I am really, really surprised and pleasantly so.”

Three years ago, Beaudry contacted the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, which provides a number of services to survivors of sexual abuse, to see how she could help. So in 2018, she collected coats out of her cafe in the Winnetka train station. 

Last year, she asked the center if she could again run the coat drive. But this year, she said the advocacy center contacted her “because they had a great need, bigger than ever.”

Earlier in the year, the center initiated a campaign to raise awareness of child abuse at a time when survivors and vulnerable youth had to spend more time in the home.

“You talk to these people (at the advocacy center) and you want to be a better human,” Beaudry said. 

Since early in the pandemic, Cafe Fleurette has only been open on Saturdays, limiting purchases to preorders.

Business has been good considering, she said, but the coat drive was still surprising.

“This community is amazing,” she said. “ … I put everything in Hefty bags and they didn’t all fit in a minivan. … It puts a smile on my face for sure.”

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

Related Stories