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Church in Tamaqua taking over coat drive

Members of a local church are stepping in to fill the void after a charity group downsized operations in the area.

TAMAQUA, Pa. — It's the time of the year to button and zip up those winter coats, but for some in Tamaqua, that may not be possible.

Linda Heigele from St. John's Lutheran Church says the Salvation Army sold its building in town, taking many programs with it.

"They're not doing, like, their dinners or their coat drives because they only have a small office now. (In) previous years, we have collected coats for them, so I suggested it would be a good idea if we would pick it up," Heigele said.

Heigele says the need in town has grown in the charity's absence.

"I would probably say it is larger because, without the presence of the Salvation Army, I would think there's more people in need, especially with the pandemic and everything that is going on right now."

Members of St. John's are now bringing in coats of all sizes and colors, aiming to top the mark of 220 they collected last year.

"Between kids, adults, and we're also collecting hats, mittens, scarves that are either new or barely used. We don't want to take anything in that we can't give away to somebody. "

The churchgoers are bringing in winter gear through the end of February. They're not taking donations from outside the church this year but could expand the program in the future. It's all part of their mission.

"The people here are very, very willing to give, without any exceptions. We welcome all people, no matter who they are and where they are in life's journey, and that's what the church is for," said Dillon Epler, vicar at St. John's.

"We're just trying to pick up some of the slack that the Salvation Army used to do," Heigele added.

If you know of a local family or individual in need of some extra warmth this holiday season, contact Linda Heigele at 570-640-5261 or Gloria Bingaman at 570-778-3215.

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