A Defiance church and its members are once again rallying the community for a project to help those in need.
The First Presbyterian Church, 501 Washington Ave., will host its 32nd annual Coats for Christmas drive. Community members are being asked to donate new or gently used coats for adults and children.
Volunteers have placed collection barrels throughout Defiance, including numerous area churches, General Motors Defiance Casting Operations, Johns Manville, Northtowne Mall, Defiance Metal Products, Goin’ Postal, Mercury Cleaners, Defiance County Health Department, Chief Supermarket, First Federal Bank, Gerken Paving, and Defiance, Ayersville and Tinora schools.
According to moderator of the board of deacons Rich Reid, the collection barrels will be out until Nov. 9. At that time, the coats will be collected and taken to Mercury Cleaners, which gets the donations ready for distribution the following week. (The deacons oversee the Coats for Christmas program.)
Those wishing to donate also may drop off new hats, scarves, mittens and socks.
“The student council at Tinora Jr. High has provided us with scarves, hats and mittens for many years,” said Reid. “They make some of the items and collect the rest.”
“This ministry now involves our whole community,” explained Pastor Ann Wasson. “Fellow churches have coat barrels for donations, along with schools and businesses in the community. Your donations contributed to the 1,100 coats we received last year; over 800 distributed at our drive. The rest were donated to groups that would make sure they got used over the winter.
“We encourage those affected by the UAW strike to come to the drive — there are no ID or income requirements to participate,” she stressed. “If money is tight and your children are growing, come look for the right coat for them and for you for this upcoming cold season.
“After 32 years, we don’t want this ministry to become routine — something we have to do because we always have — that can take away our energy and enthusiasm for reaching out in the community. Our church has joined a Presbyterian Church (USA)-wide Matthew 25 Initiative to emphasize congregational vitality in mission and outreach,” added Wasson. “Jesus is served when we share what we have with our neighbors. When you pass on a clean good winter coat to a child of God, you give it to Jesus.”
She shared that the church’s youth group also has prepared new laundry detergent that is given out while it lasts.
Distribution is scheduled for 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 16 and 1-4 p.m. Nov. 17 at First Presbyterian Church. Coat distribution is open to anyone in the Defiance area in need of a clean warm coat as winter approaches.