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Blue Coats get ready for winter

Organization looking for warm clothing donations to give out

Hubbard resident Patty Summers. CEO/president of Youngstown Blue Coats helps fold coats and other donations to the Youngstown Blue Coats as they prepare for winter distribution season.

HUBBARD — With the motto, “In America Nobody Should Freeze to Death,” the Youngstown Blue Coats make sure local people have warm coats, gloves and other items to stay warm for the winter months.

Members of the group already have begun sorting donations as they prepare for what may be a busy season — not because of the weather alone, but also because of the loss of jobs for families due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hubbard resident Patty Summers, CEO / president of YBC, said work done so far this year is in preparation for what may be an even busier year of people needing warm clothing.

“Our season ended in March, just when COVID hit. We were able to finish out our season as we normally would, but are expecting an even busier one this winter. We have been told of many people who have lost their jobs and their homes or got kicked out of their apartments, which has caused them to become homeless. This is the ripple effect of COVID. So now we are looking at an increase in our numbers for this coming winter,” Summers said.

The distribution begins in early November for Veterans Day and then continues from December to March.

WHERE TO GO

September and October are collection times when people bring donations of gently worn coats, hats, scarves, gloves, socks, hand warmers, blankets and anything to help keep a person warm. Items will continue to be collected 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays until end of February.

For information visit www.ytownbluecoats.org or call 330-531-1762. Or reach Youngstown Blue Coats at P.O. Box 224, Hubbard, Ohio 44425. The email is ytownbluecoats@gmail.com.

“Because more people have been at home because of the coronavirus, we are seeing more people bringing donations. They have been cleaning out their houses,” Summers said.

Donations brought to the YBC are inventoried, sorted and bagged.

Summers said organizations, churches and groups can help with collections by holding sock drives and “Stuff the Bus” events.

The YBC uses a donated bus to go to different places to distribute coats.

Summers said monetary donations collected will help in getting more coats and other items.

During the winter, YBC will distribute items at different locations including Basement Outreach Ministries in Warren, St. Vincent de Paul in Youngstown, Warren and Youngstown missions, Joshua’s Haven and local community kitchens.

PEOPLE HURTING

Hubbard resident Roseann Panning, a volunteer, said with the massive job loss there will be more calls from agencies that partner with YBC.

“I really believe we are going to be a lot busier. There are more people hurting. The need is so great. COVID put a big hurt on a lot of people. The food lines and the food pantries have been so busy. When you see hundreds of cars with people waiting to get a box of food there is a need,” Panning said.

“A lot of families have been going without because they have to provide for the kids. Children are at home more so the food is running out quicker.”

Hubbard resident Pat Maiorca said there is a need for food, clothing, and utility assistance with local churches providing assistance. She said there will be a table set up at the Hubbard Farmers Market 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays at Tylee Park, 15 W. Liberty St., where donations will be accepted.

“We have donation places set up in the city where people can drop things off,” she said.

Maiorca said she and Summers were part of the Sub Zero Mission in Painesville for three years to distribute coats to homeless people, and then branched off to start a local group to serve Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Mercer, Summit and Lawrence counties.

“We are starting our fourth season. We are having an increase in newly homeless. We are doing grant writing to see how we can deal with the more homeless people,” Summers said.

Summers said she already received a call about a local homeless man whose tent was in shambles. The YBC group is prepared with tents, tarps and sleeping bags for any homeless person. The group also has soap and hygiene items.

“Whenever it is really bitter cold outside, agencies will find people shelter, such as with vouchers for a motel room. We work with different agencies to help people. The police in some communities help take in people in for the night when it is cold to make sure they are OK,” Summers said.

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