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Donate coats this Christmas season

A local church is spending Advent warming hearts with winter coats.

St. Mary of the Presentation Catholic Church is hosting its annual Advent drive. Each Advent, the church looks for a need in the local community, collects items to fill it, and donates the items to a church with a ministry to distribute to those in need.

In past years, St. Mary of the Presentation has collected smaller items such as mittens or scarves. This year is its second year collecting winter coats. The drive looks for new or gently used, clean coats for men, women, boys and girls in all sizes. The collection will last until Dec. 13, when the weather will get colder, and the need will be greater.

“One of our parishioners, Jake Concienne, suggested that we collect coats for the annual drive last year,” said Ann Sweet, coordinator of the Religious Education Program at St. Mary’s and one of the heads of the coat drive. “It was such a good idea, and I want the credit to go to him.”

The coats received this year are going to the Clothes Closet at St. Vincent De Paul’s Catholic Church in Newport News. This is the first year of partnering with this ministry for the Advent drive due to this ministry’s need for coats this winter.

According to Sweet, the drive will most likely remain a coat drive for future years instead of changing on a year-to-year basis. Last year, St. Mary of the Presentation’s Advent Coat Drive donated more than 80 coats to Suffolk Christian Church for its clothing ministry. With such an incredible donation of coats for such a great need, the drive wants to keep collecting coats.

“People have been so generous,” said Sweet. “In our first week, we already had 25-plus coats donated. It’s been going steady ever since the start. We are starting the second week now, and it’s beautiful to see.”

The public can donate new or gently used winter coats from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. before Dec. 13, at 202 S. Broad St.