Guest Post: Kevin O'Brien, Parish & School Outreach Coordinator
It was Christmas Eve, and at the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter, a woman came into the building in the mid-afternoon shivering. She had been released from the hospital and had walked across the city to the shelter.
The high that day barely reach 40 degrees.
She was immediately taken back to the “coat closet” where staff helped her try on coats until she found one that fit her and was warm. She then went and had some lunch and warmed up from the cold day.
This winter brought with it some of the coldest temperatures the Washington, DC area had seen in years. It was accompanied by some of the warmest feelings and most open hearts.
Joseph’s Coats of Many Colors Drive, the archdiocesan-wide coat drive which just completed its second year, received more than 9,000 new and gently used coats as donations. Catholic Charities, in partnership with the Archdiocese of Washington Schools Office worked with volunteers (who came by the hundreds) to make sure that everyone who needed protection from the elements could have it.
Alumni organizations, high school students, and friends volunteered at our “boutique shops” set up throughout the Washington, DC area. At these boutiques, coats could be purchased for the low price of two dollars and even purchased in bulk for area churches and shelters. One of those coats purchased for a shelter went to the woman who came in on Christmas Eve.
To add to the warmth of the occasion, students wrote and decorated notes to put in the pockets of the coats, letting the coats’ new owners know there are people praying for and thinking of them.
When Mother Nature gave us bone-chilling weather this winter, the community answered back—and the response was incredible.
We are grateful to so many for the success of our coat drive. We’d like to say a special thanks to: the students, faculty, and staff at Catholic schools within the Archdiocese of Washington, Fr. Jim Boccabella and St. Francis Xavier Parish in Southeast DC, Fr. Jim Stack and St. Jerome Parish in Hyattsville, MD, and our Super Volunteers—Cathy McCarthy and Karen O’Brien (St. Patrick’s Parish in Rockville, MD), and Lynn Stewart (Blessed Sacrament Parish in Northwest DC).