Published November 29, 2007
—Every year, thousands of men, women and children in North Georgia must bear the cold winter months without a coat to keep them warm. Maybe they are homeless and have no place to keep a coat during the summer months. Or maybe they are living on the financial edge and must make the choice between buying a coat and providing food for their family. This winter, the students at Holy Redeemer School, Alpharetta, were determined to change this by donating winter coats to those who need them most.
The week of Oct. 15, the second-grade students of Holy Redeemer hosted a school-wide coat drive entitled “Share the Warmth,” to benefit the St. Vincent de Paul Society. With the school’s support, numerous parent volunteers and the students’ effort, nearly 500 needy North Georgians will be warm this winter.
In early October, John Berry, executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and Jane Currie, deputy director of the society, were invited to speak to the second-grade students about the mission of the organization and how warm coats can make a difference for their neighbors in need.
“While many of us are lucky to have more than one coat, there are those who are less fortunate and may have no coat at all,” said Berry. “Everyone deserves a warm coat for the winter. At St. Vincent de Paul we work to make this possible.”
Preparations for the coat drive began with a work day when students filmed a commercial, decorated collection boxes, designed posters, made invitations and learned how to ask for coat donations. Every morning throughout the drive, the commercial was played on the school news, and students worked shifts at the curb, asking everyone to “share the warmth” and donate clean, new and gently used coats for men, women and children. A custom-decorated collection box also was located in the school lobby.
With the help of Spiritual Life room mothers Kathleen Lubert, Nicole Millsaps, Tricia Mondi, Aileen Norden and Mary Karamarkovich, the coats were organized and bagged by size.
“This is a big help for us,” said Currie. “We rely on the generosity of our volunteers to do the bulk of our sorting and donations processing. With these coats sorted upon delivery we are able to immediately serve people that come to us in need.”
On Oct. 22, the second-grade students, accompanied by teachers and parent volunteers, caravaned to the St. Vincent de Paul Society office in Chamblee to deliver 30 pre-sorted and labeled garbage bags full of nearly 500 coats. The group watched a short video about the organization and toured the facility.
According to Renee Manigault, parent volunteer in charge of all-school service projects, the students understand there are people who need more than they do.
“We want to pass on to them that it is important to do good things for those less fortunate.”
Holy Redeemer School is located at 3380 Old Alabama Road, Alpharetta.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Atlanta provides financial, material and spiritual support to those in need regardless of background or faith and collaborates with other organizations to empower people to achieve self-sufficiency. For more information visit www.svdpatl.org.