A gift of warmth: Event offers coats and kindness to those in need

Originally published by Toledo Blade on Nov. 10, 2018. View the original posting.

A good coat can make all the difference.

Well-fitted, insulated, and warm, an ideal jacket shields against all elements Toledo winters may muster. Jamir Bryant, 9, found one for himself.

“It is so soft,” he said among the racks of clothes.

The Bryant youth and his mother, Jalisa Simmons, attended Saturday’s Share the Warmth program at Vision Ministries in South Toledo. Attendees lined around the building for jackets, hats, gloves, and socks.

Ms. Simmons, 29, picked up a coat for herself as well. It was nice and snug, and will allow her to spend those funds on other winter clothes for the family, she said.

“It means a lot to me because it helps me save money,” she said.

Share the Warmth had roughly 1,100 coats to give away and distributed more than 400 blankets, said the Rev. Tom Clapsaddle, executive director at Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission.

“Is there a need? Absolutely. Can we meet the need? The generous people of Toledo, and I say generous people of Toledo, help us to meet the need,” Mr. Clapsaddle said, adding he is grateful to serve this role.

“It’s a good feeling to be able to be the hands and feet that makes it happen. That’s just what we want to be. And that’s what we’re supposed to be,” he said.

The Rev. Earl Harris, a campus pastor for Vision Ministries, noted a steady stream of people since before 9 a.m. He was pleased to see families attending together with their children.

“When I see the line’s getting too long, or people looking like they’re going to have to wait a little bit, I go over and give them a word of encouragement,” he said.

Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission, Susie’s Coats, the Salvation Army, and Hannah’s Socks all partnered for the event. A second distribution site took place at Jones Leadership Academy of Business as well.

Those in need were not required to bring any documentation. Although these groups have for years provided free jackets, this is the second coordinated Share the Warmth event.

Samantha Valdez, 28, picked up coats for her four children. She expects they will be excited for the jackets.

“I think it’s nice that they’re doing this because a lot of people don’t have money for this type of stuff,” she said.

Volunteer Manuela Murphy, 60, is a member of the ministry. She was happy to take part and help serve a need in South Toledo.

“I came on the bus, and it was cold. I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God. God picked this day because we have all the children here getting coats. It was needed for today,’” she said.

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