Coat drive offers a warm up

Area residents in need of a warm coat for winter can also get a free hot meal from 11 to 2 p.m. Saturday during the Realife Church free coat giveaway at Centennial Park.

Realife business manager Shirley Griffin said the program began five years ago with about 300 coats, but now the number has grown to 750 coats – a more than doubling of need she attributed to the economy of the area.

She said Pastor Jason Vickery and his wife Sarah are very community-oriented and when they arrived five years ago, their dream of outreach started with the coat drive which is used to warm up Salem and surrounding areas.

The new or gently used coats come from donations from church members and from coats collected in boxes placed at various businesses around town starting in late September. They come in all shapes and sizes from infants to adults and cash donations are also used to fill out the collection with any sizes not represented.

“We ask no questions,” Griffin said.

They don’t require proof of income or ask for any explanations from the people in need of a coat. All they ask is that all children are with the families when they come for the coats. They won’t send a coat home for a child without the child being there.

They don’t turn anybody down, with coats available as supplies last.

The Realife Chuck Wagon of Hope will serve hot dogs, french fries and dessert while the Salvation Army will provide water, hot chocolate and coffee from its trailer.

Griffin said this is just one of Realife’s big events aimed at helping the community. They also host a meal for senior citizens at the church on Salem Warren Road from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Wednesday, providing fellowship and devotions after the meal.

Every spring the church hosts the Easter Eggstravaganza egg hunt.