The Winter Coat

my-winter-coatGive 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

Growing up in a blue collar family, having a new coat for winter was a welcomed gift.  That is one of the reasons I fondly remember my Aunt Jay.   Each year she would scrimp and save from her 90-cent an hour job at the dry cleaners. She would use the money 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.

My wife, Diane works with the Community Pregnancy Center. Diane was in charge of their Christmas room a few years ago.  The center provided coats and winter clothing  for the children of their clients. They provided toys and gifts as well.

One day I read in the paper that a local Penny’s outlet was selling coats at a 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.  Just as advertised, there were 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 crowded with shoppers that day and the checkout lines were long. As I maneuvered the carts through the store, a young clerk was opening another checkout.  She motioned me toward her checkout.  I rushed to make my way and was the first in line at the new checkout.  As I did 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 and 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. She received a crib, layette, blankets, formula, and diapers. And, she received 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 a “God Appointment.” We were meant to meet this beautiful young girl.  And the fact that she opened the checkout line just for me, made it 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. She would pause and enjoy 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.

***This is an rewrite of a story that originally appeared on November 25, 2012***


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