ST. MARYS — Thanks to an annual drive, more than 2,000 people have received free coats to keep them warm in the winter months.
The One Warm Coat drive is in full swing and is once again seeking gently used and new men’s, women’s and children’s coats to benefit the residents of western Auglaize County. In its sixth year, the drive has collected 2,757 coats that have been dispersed to clients of Agape Ministries.
“Last year alone, we collected 736 coats,” organizer Paula Ankerman told The Evening Leader. “There is a need for men’s, women’s and children’s coats. We really like to see the children’s coats.”
Of the 736 coats collected last year, only 50 remain in Agape’s separate inventory for One Warm Coat items. Ankerman said one of the stipulations of the drive is that all coats must be provided to those in need at no cost.
“Each year we have done this, it has gotten bigger and bigger,” Ankerman. “We have collected more and more coats, and more people have participated. There have been quite a few partnerships that have formed.”
For the past three years, the Kiwanis Club has provided money to purchase new youth coats. Ankerman also has received support from a slew of other entities throughout the area to help make the drive a success every year.
“The St. Marys Intermediate and Primary schools, last year and this year, have barrels in the schools for the staff to bring in coats and for parents to drop off coats,” Ankerman said. “TLC, they also are a huge contributor. They have helped us out every year and always do a great job. There also are barrels at Pantry Pride and various churches participate ... The St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce and the Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce also help us with advertising. So many people are willing to help and see how important it is. I think it’s evident in the amount of coats collected and distributed.”
Ankerman stressed the coats collected as part of the drive remain local and help local residents.
“I make sure people know it’s for all the communities served by Agape,” Ankerman said of the drive. “It’s not just for St. Marys — it helps Minster, New Bremen and New Knoxville, and the coats stay right here for those families in need.”
Residents who are unable to get to a collection barrel can take part in a collection day scheduled to be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Oct. 6 in the parking lot of Zion Lutheran Church in St. Marys. Ankerman also encouraged businesses to help out in the drive.
“If any business wants to help, I always encourage them to jump onboard,” Ankerman said. “Put out a barrel, hang up a sign that says what you are doing. Being part of One Warm Coat, I have fliers if anyone wants one.”
For more information, call Ankerman at 419-953-2445.