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Group that helps homeless seeks donations as cold hits

Lee Nelson, a community outreach worker with CHAS, sorts donated coats at the First Covenant Church on Wednesday.  (Colin Mulvany)
Lee Nelson, a community outreach worker with CHAS, sorts donated coats at the First Covenant Church on Wednesday. (Colin Mulvany)

It’s time to clean out that coat closet.

Spokane Mental Health’s Homeless Outreach Team needs at least a couple hundred more men’s and women’s coats for its 11th annual Winter Wear Drive in conjunction with Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week.

Donations are needed today between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the First Covenant Church, Second Avenue and Division Street. The coats will be handed out Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the church.

“It’s critical, especially now as the weather turns cold,” said Chrystal Alderman, outreach team leader. “The homeless are ill-equipped.”

Last year, the Winter Wear Drive gave away 300 coats to Spokane’s homeless. This year it only has 150 coats on hand, and as many as 400 people in need are expected.

Coats of all sizes are needed, but particularly XXL and XXXL, because people living on the street layer their garments. The team prefers the donated coats to be laundered, Alderman said.

Also being accepted are donations of toiletry items such as shaving cream and deodorant.

The Department of Social and Health Services Mobile Community Services Office will be there to accept applications and conduct eligibility interviews for food, cash and medical benefits.

Also as part of Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week, Food for Thought, the annual Shalom Ministries dinner, will be tonight from 5 to 7 p.m.

The dinner at Central United Methodist Church, 518 W. Third Ave., is planned and served by students of Gonzaga and Whitworth universities, as well as community partners.



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