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Caring Hands Ministries gives out coats, blankets
Clothing drive features winter garments
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Robin Harkins leaves the Caring Hands Ministries service center Monday with a stack of donated blankets. - photo by Tom Reed

Those in need of warm winter clothing and blankets had plenty of options to outfit themselves after the Caring Hands Ministries coat and blanket giveaway Monday in Clermont.

For a third year in a row, the ministry worked with the nonprofit Americans Helping Americans to collect winter coats, hats, jackets and sweats, blankets and hygiene products for one of several clothing drives Caring Hands Ministries hosts throughout the year.

Ann Fleming, executive director and co-founder of Caring Hands Ministries, said the ministry and its clothing drives began with the persistence of a young girl wanting to help a classmate.

“This started 15 years ago when my friend’s daughter came to her mom upset that a 6-year-old she saw from school in August was wearing flip flops, and the other kids were making fun of him,” Fleming said. “We found out those were the only shoes he had, so she and her friend went out and bought shoes for him with their school lunch money.”

The ministry’s back-to-school drive started soon after, and while many families came to find children’s clothes for the new school year, Fleming explained no one ever wanted to take winter clothes.

“We used to have warm clothes at the back-to-school drive, but people didn’t want them because it was too hot outside. So that’s when we started having other drives around the time of year when people were thinking about needing warm clothes,” Fleming said.

On Monday, Fleming said an elderly woman named Martha visited the clothing drive and took home her new coats in a state of awe.

“She held up one of the coasts and said, ‘Do I really get to own something new? I haven’t had anything new since my wedding day.’ She was just amazed,” Fleming said.

And although many come to receive help, a lot also try to contribute to other people’s needs.

“People will come get things but also bring clothes their own kids have outgrown to help someone else,” Fleming said. “It’s so neat to see what really resulted from one kid. The Lord really took that and multiplied it. We’ve been really blessed.”

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