MASON — For the past three years, the Mason United Methodist Church has had an annual winter coat giveaway, and the heartwarming stories of its success have been many.
This year’s giveaway will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 15 at the church, located at 2183 Second St. in Mason.
According to Sue Stone, one of the event organizers, the giveaway was the brainchild of church member Amber Tracy.
“God laid it on her heart to do this, but we’ve all got such a blessing out of it,” Stone said. “You just never know about a person’s plight.”
Stone told the story about the first year the event was held. She said it was cold and rainy, and she saw a woman walking in Mason, so she stopped.
“She was already in Mason, but had walked from Middleport to get a coat,” Stone said. “She was cold and wet. I took her to get the coat, and one of us took her back home.”
Stone said another time a man came in wearing only a T-shirt. Being another cold day, the man was there not for himself, but for his grandchildren. She said the volunteers talked the man into getting a coat for himself, even though he said he didn’t want to take one from someone who might need it more.
While prior giveaways have been held in October, this year’s event was scheduled earlier to allow people to be more prepared for winter, Stone said. She also said the date coincides with the Bend Area Food Pantry’s food and commodities day.
Stone said coats of all sizes are given away, from children’s to plus sizes. The coats are provided through donations from the community, and no soiled coats are given out.
“We separate all the coats by sizes, and there are church members there to assist with sizes and help people try them on,” Stone stated. “It fills our hearts to be able to help people.”
The church is still in need of coat donations, according to Stone. Anyone wanting to make a donation can take it to the parsonage, located next door to the church, or to the church’s other ministry, The Zerkle House.
The Zerkle House offers gently used clothing and household items year-round. Stone said clothing is sold for a quarter, some still bearing store tags.
The Zerkle House is open each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the first three Saturdays of the month from 10 to 2. It will also be open on the day of the coat giveaway, Stone said.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.