Records broken in 2021 Coats for Vets collection drive

  • Some of the coats and jackets donated in this year's Coats for Vets collection drive, hosted by Libertyville Sunrise Rotary and Zengeler Cleaners.

    Some of the coats and jackets donated in this year's Coats for Vets collection drive, hosted by Libertyville Sunrise Rotary and Zengeler Cleaners. Courtesy of John Coxon

Updated 12/10/2021 12:00 PM

The generosity of Lake County residents was on full display in the 2021 Coats for Vets collection drive hosted by Libertyville Sunrise Rotary and Zengeler Cleaners.

The service organization and local cleaner teamed up to collect 7,148 coats and jackets, along with hundreds of scarves, gloves and other winter clothing in support of local veterans.


The support for this year's drive was overwhelming, more than doubling the previous number of items collected in any other year.

"The Lake County community sent a clear message of appreciation to our vets, thanking them for providing the freedoms we enjoy and, too often, take for granted," said Tom Zengeler, president of Zengeler Cleaners.

"The U.S. has surviving veterans of World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, those serving in the Middle East, as well as other conflicts. Far too many of our heroes find it challenging to transition to civilian life and find meaningful work in an ever-evolving employment environment.

"I am extremely proud of our veterans and extremely proud of the support members of Libertyville Sunrise Rotary, their families and businesses demonstrated this year."

COVID-19 has compounded the challenges for many veterans, according to Zengeler.

"When you add the complications of a pandemic to the difficulties veterans already face, it's more important than ever to support them in any way possible. While support for this cause has been strong through the years, the local community really stepped up this year," he said.

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"Hopefully, our veterans can see how much we really care about them. The record-setting response to the collection drive has an estimated retail value of more than $8,000, a number that pales in comparison to how much these donations mean to our veterans."

Zengeler Cleaners' two Libertyville stores once again served as drop-off locations for the donations. After the items were collected, Zengeler Cleaners inspected, repaired as needed and cleaned every donated item. They further supported the effort by delivering the clothing in time for Veterans Day on Nov. 11.

The Libertyville Sunrise Rotary chapter was founded in 1987. Being an active Rotarian is a Zengeler family tradition: Bob Zengeler Sr., Tom's father, served in Rotary for more than 60 years before passing away in 2019, while Tom is a charter member and immediate past-president of the Sunrise Rotary Chapter.

Rotary International has more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas, with more than 1.2 million business and professional leaders as members, all volunteering their time and talents to serve their communities.

For more information about the Coats for Vets drive, contact Tom Zengeler at (847) 272-6550, ext. 14, or visit For more information about Rotary International, visit

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