LITTLE HOCKING - Most people don't think about buying a coat or a pair of gloves in the middle of summer, but for Little Hocking resident Lois Knadler, it has become a tradition.
Knadler is the coordinator of the Little Hocking United Methodist Church's annual coat giveaway, which has grown bigger each of the eight years it has been held.
She spends nine months of the year looking for coats at yard sales, buying discounted coats at department stores and gathering donated coats. Money to purchase coats is raised through an all-you-can-eat chili and hot dog dinner, being held at the church from 4 to 7 p.m. today. The coat giveaway is always held in November.
Photo by Ashley Rittenhouse
Gilman United Methodist Church members Jim Williams and Joyce Glasser fold clothes in preparation for the church’s Clothing and More Giveaway to be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.
"Usually we get between 700 and 800 coats. Last year we gave away 653 coats," Knadler said. "We like to reach out to the community and help those in need."
An increasing number of churches are holding giveaway events regularly, and organizers say a downturn in the economy has resulted in an increasing number of people taking advantage of opportunities to get free clothing, toys and other items.
"When it's time for it to start, they're lining up at the door here," said Doris Kehl, vice president of the United Methodist Women group at Gilman United Methodist Church in Marietta. "The first hour is always the busiest it seems like but it stays steady until we close. I can't say we've run clear out, but there's been times we don't have much to take to Goodwill or the Salvation Army."
The church's United Methodist Women group organizes the Clothing and More Giveaway, held in March and November each year. Kehl said it has been held at least 10 years and includes clothes, curtains and home appliances that are donated by church members and community members. A free lunch is also provided.
The event is being held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the church at 312 Gilman Ave. in Marietta. Organizers are expecting a big crowd, as usual.
"I feel there's a definite need. There are a lot of people out of work now and probably a lot of people who didn't think they'd be faced with that are faced with it now," Kehl said. "We feel it's a good mission, it's community outreach. We want to help as much as we can but we're limited on a day-to-day basis, but this is something we can offer a couple times a year without any cost at all to people."
Another Marietta church, Faith United Methodist Church on Seventh Street, holds a free meal and clothing giveaway the third Saturday of every month, with the next event scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 17.
Marietta resident Jim Schoonover said the church started holding the giveaways in the fall and between 50 and 60 people attend each time. He volunteers to help out with the event, along with his wife Ruth.
"I believe it is definitely needed and I think it's a great service to the community. It takes a good bit of work to get it all lined up," said Jim Schoonover. "We just enjoy doing it even though we're dead tired when we're finished."
In addition to free clothing, folks can also get a free lunch there. Church members prepare the food and they also sort, hang and fold the clothing.
"They have a different menu every month," Schoonover noted.
Those who go to the Kids Shop at Stockport United Methodist Church are able to enjoy a breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and biscuits and gravy, and pick up items for their youngsters at no charge.
"We give away diapers, wipes, shampoos, soaps, baby bottles, baby needs and gently used clothing," said the church's pastor, the Rev. Richard Purvis.
A joint effort by the Stockport and Oakland United Methodist Churches, the Kids Shop is held the third Saturday of every month at the Stockport United Methodist Church at 3455 Market St. in Stockport.
Breakfast is offered from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., with the Kids Shop running from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.