The Winter Coat

Give and gifts will be given to you, a good measure, packed together shaken down and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.  Luke 6:38

The Winter CoatGrowing up in a blue collar family, having a new coat for winter was truly a welcomed gift.  That is one of the reasons I remember my Aunt Jay so fondly.  Each year she would scrimp and save from her 90-cent an hour job at the dry cleaners to buy winter coats for my cousins, Diane, Steven, and Susan, and my sister Angie and me.  And, believe me; it takes a lot of hot sweaty hours in the laundry to pay for five coats.  But she did, and it wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized just what a sacrifice that was.

Working with the Community Pregnancy Center, my wife, Diane was in charge of their Christmas room a few years ago.  They provide coats and winter clothing as well as toys and gifts for the children of their clients they serve.

One day I read in the paper that a local Penny’s outlet was selling coats at a very low price.  Remembering Aunt Jay, this was my opportunity to pay it forward and provide coats for needy kids.  One Saturday morning, Diane and I made our way to the outlet and just as advertised, there were very nice winter coats in all sizes.  I was like a kid in a candy store loading up two shopping carts with coats in a variety of sizes and colors.

The store was packed with shoppers that day and the checkout lines were long, but as I maneuvered the two carts, one in each hand, through the store, a young clerk motioned to me that she was opening another checkout.  Hurriedly, I made my way and was the first in line at the new checkout.  Immediately, I noticed that the young checkout girl was pregnant and her eyes were red from crying.

I smiled and tried to make some small talk when she asked me, “Wow, you have a lot of coats here, where are you taking them?”

“To the Community Pregnancy Center,” I replied.  “What is that, she inquired?”

As I explained, her tears returned as she began to tell her story.  “I’m pregnant, my parents kicked me out of the house, my boyfriend left and all I have is this part-time job and a room I am renting.  I don’t know how I will ever support a child, I need everything!

Immediately, Diane jumped in to the conversation, telling her that there was help.  She gave her a card with the address and number of CPC and told her to call on Monday and make an appointment.

Not long after that day, she had her baby, a big healthy boy.  And she got the help she needed from this wonderful organization.  A crib, layette, blankets, formula, diapers, and most importantly the spiritual help from a caring staff and volunteers were all waiting for her at CPC.

I realized that our trip to the outlet that day to buy coats was really a “God Appointment” to meet this beautiful young girl.  And the fact that she opened the checkout line just for me, made it perfectly clear.

She got what she needed for her baby, and as a bonus, a coat for herself that was just the right size and color.  I could picture Aunt Jay, snapping her Juicy Fruit chewing gum, and smiling her special smile, but only for a moment, because then it would be time to start saving for next year.


*Community Pregnancy Center of Barberton provides confidential services free of charge to women in need.  To make a contribution and to find out more click here. My wife, Diane, is a member of the Center’s board.

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