"There's nothing we can do to bring back the lives of the animals that were skinned alive or beaten for frivolous fashion statements, but we can try to make some good in what is a horrible situation," PETA spokesperson Katie Arth tells Yahoo Shine about its program, which collects the coats from reformed fur wearers and then doles them out to the needy. While the organization may be most known for headline-grabbing stunts that have included using celebs to bare it all, requesting that Ben & Jerry's make ice cream with human instead of cow's milk, and issuing a poster with Pamela Anderson diagrammed like a side of beef, this event was more of a feel-good gesture.
Every month PETA collects dozens of coats — along with wool, angora and leather items — from people who no longer wish to wear animal-derived clothing. "People are horrified and no longer want to continue to wear the products," says Arth, explaining that animals used for their fur are electrocuted, drowned, beaten and often skinned alive. She notes that PETA investigations, such as its recent look at the barbaric treatment of rabbits at angora farms in China, often fuel a rush in donations.
Earlier this month, PETA also made a hefty drop-off of furs to a coat drive in Newark, NJ. In Detroit, the program was part of a joint effort with Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries and Bethlehem House, a shelter. "PETA has long said that only people who are truly struggling to survive have any excuse for wearing fur," its website stated, "and on Monday, with temperatures well below freezing, we drove that point home."
Recipients were "really appreciative," Arth says, with one woman, Cheryl Willis, telling CBS Detroit, "I got me a short, black mink jacket, and it's beautiful. I'm blessed to have it; it's really beautiful." Another notes she will be saving hers for special occasions. "Yes, this is really going to help keep me warm, but I'm not going to be wearing it out on the street or like on the buses," Luquious Wootens tells CBS. "The only time I'm going to be wearing it is when I'm going to church or if we have a function."
But PETA still gets its message across, explaining to recipients where the donations came from and why.
As for other people who may be upset to learn about the animal cruelty behind certain products, but who still have leather boots or wool coats in their closets, "The most important thing we can do is not buy any new [animal-derived] products, and to make sure the next purchase is cruelty-free and synthetic," Arth notes. "How people decide to clear out their wardrobe is up to them."