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Coat Drive Warms Hearts And Arms Multi-Agency Effort Touches Hundreds Of Local Disadvantaged People

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Some folks cringe at the sight of Christmas trees in the stores and Christmas music in October.

Not Pam Pressley and Regina Arrowood. They are organizing again a coat drive this year in memory of Arrowood's mother, Pat Parker and in the spirit of Christmas that comes around every year whether we cringe or not.

"She was just so concerned for anybody who needed a coat or a meal or toys at Christmas," Pressley said of Parker who passed last year.

The group has a Facebook page at Keep Rutherford County Warm. New and gently used coats, scarves, shoes, gloves, and hats can be dropped off at the Lake Lure Police Dept, Rutherfordton Police Dept, Forest City Police Dept, offices of Rutherford Weekly and The Daily Courier.

Two churches are committed so far to the effort, Mt. Vernon Baptist Church and West Memorial Baptist Church. Others are welcome to join in.

Several agencies help distribute warm clothing to families in need. They include: The Salvation Army, Grace of God Ministries, Chase Corner Ministries, New Beginnings Soup Kitchen, Rutherford County Schools Outreach, and Pilgrims Pathway House of Refuge.

The coat drive will run November 1-30.

Rutherford County has a 19 percent poverty rate, which means almost one in five of the people we pass in the grocery store qualifies for government assistance with food stamps, housing, or free school lunches.

It tugs at the heartstrings of folks like Pressley and Arrowood, and many who live here and attend churches like West Memorial and Mt. Vernon who have made a commitment to help with this year's drive.

It's also at the heart of efforts like those of the agencies listed above.

Pressley said Pat Parker was hot on the trail of this kind of service for "At least 20 years. As far back as I can remember. She was just so worried that people had enough to eat, coats in the winter time, and toys at Christmas. She just had a big heart for people."

At a recent food distribution at South Mountain Christian Camp, conducted by the Washburn Outreach Ministry, over 130 cars picked up surplus food for people who were screened for low income qualifications. Some of them waited for the food for over four hours.

"If that doesn't indicate need, I don't know what does," Anita Behrns said of the food distribution program. Many cars were picking up food for more than one family.

Children are of particular concern to Pressley and Arrowood and their supporters. Children in poverty have no way out of their circumstances and the coat drive touches their lives in a big way.

According to the 25th Chapter of Matthew, Jesus had a heart for poor people, too. There are many stories throughout the Bible of His coming to the aid of those in trouble, those who needed help, like the Good Samaritan who rescued the victim of a beating and paid for his care in recovery. But in Matthew 25, the savior lays down one of the most demanding standards, "If you do it to the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you do it to me."

And in the Book of James, we are urged to be not just hearers of the word, but doers also.

Pressley and Arrowood and their allies hope we will drop off coats, hats, scarves, shoes, and gloves for the winter ahead.

The organizers are introducing a new effort this year called "Patty Coats". The coat drive will include a child sponsorship program for children in Rutherford County. Contact the organizers for more ways to get involved. Pam Pressley is at 828-447-5931 or Regina Arrowood can be reached 828-639-2211. Each has information about becoming a sponsor to a child in need. A sponsor provides a coat, shoes and gloves to a child in need of warm clothing.

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