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Blue Coats help people stay warm

HUBBARD — With cold weather likely to begin, a local organization is trying to make sure everyone, from the homeless to veterans, have winter clothing when temperatures get cold.

Youngstown Blue Coats, based in Hubbard, held its first distribution of winter coats, hats, boots, gloves, socks and other winter weather gear as well as sleeping bags and tents.

Patty Summers of Hubbard, president and CEO of the Youngstown Blue Coats, said the focus is on getting winterwear to the homeless and people without permanent shelter.

The group’s motto is “No one should freeze.”

The Bluecoats collected items recently in a school bus and delivered them to different agencies and organizations, such as the local rescue missions. The charity has a new bus this year to help make distributions easier.

Drop-off sites are at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts in Hubbard, Hubbard Municipal Building and First National Bank in Hubbard.

“We go out as a group and find people needing items at night. We work with different agencies and help people to get back on their feet,” she said.

She said the recent distribution of items at St. Vincent DePaul Society helped more than 120 people.

She said her volunteers don’t ask questions or make judgments about the about the people they help.

“I’m not going to let anyone freeze to death,” Summers said.

Summers said they have worked with Pastor Julia Wike of Basement Outreach in Warren, in finding and helping homeless people.

“We contact people who work in the field, working with the homeless. We contact them and they act as our guides and they take us out to where they know people are at,” Summers said.

She said many of the homeless people have hidden camps along rivers and in wooded areas but finding people who need help can be a challenge.

Youngstown Blue Coats was established in 2018 after Summers left Sub Zero Mission.

“There was a need in this area, which continues to grow. There is an increased need in several counties,” Summers said.

Youngstown Blue Coats serves Trumbull, Mahoning, Lawrence and Mercer counties.

Summers said a local group made mats from grocery and garbage bags, which homeless people can sleep on and stay dry.

An estimated 24,000 people in Ohio and Pennsylvania are homeless and about one in 10 are veterans, she said.

“Our focus is on helping anyone who is homeless, but we especially help veterans. It is unacceptable for anyone to be homeless, but even more a veteran who served our country,” she said.

A poker tournament fundraiser is being planned for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 20 at Hubbard Lions Club.

Summers said the agency has an office at 6169 Youngstown Hubbard Road open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. For information, call 330-531-1762 or visit visit www.ytownbluecoats.org.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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