Community bundles up

Published 9:24 pm Monday, January 18, 2010

If someone didn’t know any better, they may have thought Suffolk Christian Church was handing out free cars Saturday morning because of the number of people coming in and out of the building.

The church wasn’t handing out cars, but the church did hand out more than 450 free coats on Saturday.

“The event went very well,” said Beverly McGahee, who helped organize the event. “It was a successes – even more so than in previous years. We gave out over 450 coats.”

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From 8 a.m. to noon, on Jan. 16, volunteers handed out coats that had been donated to the church by community and church members.

The church has held the event for over 20 years, according to McGahee.

“People were overwhelmingly grateful (for the coats),” McGahee said. “They weren’t choosy at all.”

The coats were organized in a classroom and volunteers helped people who needed the coats find their size.

“It’s just like going to a department store. All the coats are organized according to size and whether they’re boys’, girls’, men’s or women’s,” said Kitty Martin, who also helped organize the event. “People just come on in and pick one.”

Sweaters, cold weather hats, mittens and other winter accessories were almost all given away.

“I’m not sure why we had such an increase of people this year,” McGahee said. “It may have been because we did the event in January and it’s been so cold lately or the economy.”

Despite the increase, the church had more than enough coats to go around.

“We have about 170 coats left over,” McGahee said. “We’ll keep a few for our seed coats next year but the rest will go to the Salvation Army.”

McGahee said people who need coats often stop by the church throughout the year.

“After 20 years of doing this, the words gets out there,” she said.

Because of the success this year, event coordinators are considering holding it in January next year.

“It’s just such a direct ministry,” McGahee said. “It was just that hands-on, handing someone a coat that needs it during the cold winter.”