Kingston church collecting, distributing coats to make sure community isn’t left out in the cold
KINGSTON — It was a short story with an overarching message that inspired the Rev. Paul Metzloff and members of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church to collect and offer coats to the community for free.
The Have Two Closet, a monthly program that hands out free used coats, got its name from a verse in Luke’s gospel. In it, people asked how they could change their lives. John the Baptist gave them a simple, profound answer, Metzloff said.
“He told them ‘If you have two coats, give one away,’” Metzloff, 48, said Sunday in the basement of the Kingston church, a few feet away from more than 500 gently used, freshly laundered coats waiting to be claimed.
But don’t call it a coat drive.
“A coat drive is a one time shot and you’re done,” Metzloff said. “We call it a coat closet because it’s here, it’s ongoing.”
Currently in its first year, the program runs on the first Friday and Saturday of each month.
Those interested in a free coat don’t need to preregister. They don’t need proof of income or any other requirement, either, Metzloff said. They just need to show up.
“The goal is to have people that are cold get coats,” he said. “That’s it.”
It isn’t just a good deed. Metzloff said the program gives volunteers an opportunity to work together toward a goal and interact with one another.
Members of the congregation began collecting coats in February and throughout the spring, but didn’t begin distributing the wares until October, Metzloff said, adding that many of the monthly distribution days have been hit or miss.
Some months would see upwards of 50 people looking for a coat while others, including one held this past weekend, saw less than a dozen, he said.
“Getting coats has really not been a problem,” Metzloff said. “Getting coats to those who need them has been a bigger challenge.”
Metzloff acknowledged an unusually balmy holiday season likely played a role in some spotty turnouts. But as temperatures begin to settle into to a normal winter groove, Metzloff expects a larger showing.
“We definitely expect things to pick up,” he said.
Many of the donations came from congregation members and their friends, as well as other congregations and those that have seen the program shared on Facebook. Metzloff said volunteers take the coats home and wash them, each using the same detergent so that the coats smell the same.
Others have chipped in as well.
Valet Garment Care in Plains Township dry cleans three coats every month for free, Metzloff said. Grants from the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church helped pay for the coat racks. Volunteers help make sure the process runs smoothly, he added.
The next opportunity to receive a free coat will be 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, Feb. 5 and Saturday, Feb. 6.
Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL.
NEED A COAT?
When: Distribution days are held Friday, Feb. 5 and Saturday, Feb. 6, from 9 a.m. to noon, and every first Friday and Saturday each month until May.
Where: Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 813 Wyoming Ave., Kingston.
Who: Anyone can receive a coat or jacket free of cost, regardless of income. Limit is one coat per person.
Sizes: Sizes range from infant to adult 5XL.