Nov. 13—WORTHINGTON — The first flakes of winter have fallen, the wind has grown colder and it’s a good time to don a heavy coat, plus all the accessories such as hats, scarves, gloves, boots and, for kids, snow pants.
But not everyone has those things, not even in icy Minnesota — and that’s where Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC) comes in, partnering with First Lutheran Church to collect new and gently-used coats and winter outerwear accessories for its Coat Closet ministry.
“We provide coats (for) anybody that’s in need,” said Kathy Craun, volunteer coordinator. “We don’t promise we can fulfill all needs, but we do the best we can.”
The Coat Closet ministry in First Lutheran is staffed by just a few dedicated volunteers, but last year alone it provided 125 items.
That adds up to a lot of warmth for a lot of people.
Most of the people who use the Coat Closet fall into one of two categories. Some people simply can’t afford to purchase winter gear for their own families, for any number of reasons. There are also people who arrived in Worthington from a warmer place, and didn’t realize how cold it would be. Some of them are immigrants or people from the southern United States. If they arrive in late spring, many stores would have stopped selling heavy coats even though the weather isn’t warm enough to stop wearing them.
Love INC was formed by a consortium of 18 Christian churches in the area, with the intent to help people in need in a more organized way.
The Coat Closet, Craun said, is a “gap” ministry, meaning that it addresses a gap in local services; in this case, that gap is winter outerwear. At this point, the biggest needs are for children’s coats, for toddlers to middle school-aged children; and boots for both youths and adults. Donors can bring in gently-used or new items, though it is appreciated if used apparel has been washed first.
The Coat Closet does take winter hats, earmuffs, scarves, gloves, mittens, coveralls, heavy-duty hoodies, boots and snow pants, as well as monetary donations, which can provide volunteers with the flexibility to purchase items in hard-to-find sizes.
The items don’t have to be fancy, and a wide variety is good to have, because people can have unique needs, Craun said. In the past, crafters have bought up inexpensive yarn at yard sales and made hats and scarves for the Coat Closet.
“People really like that,” Craun said.
Donors can drop off items whenever First Lutheran is open, at 1200 Fourth Ave., in Worthington.
“If you have extras, please share,” Craun added.
Anyone who needs something from the Coat Closet should call Love INC at (507) 727-7291 to make an appointment. There are no forms to fill out and no income requirements, though people are asked to provide a phone number and address if possible.