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Keeping Needy Warm Through Winter

Winter Coat Closet provides hundreds of coats to those in need.

Reston Interfaith and Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) are doing their best to help those in need stay warm this winter.

For the fourth year, the two have partnered to open the Hunter Mill Winter Coat Closet at the North County Government Center, which provides winter coats to needy children and adults in the community. Until Feb. 11, the volunteer-supported Coat Closet will be open three days a week to accept donated coats and to provide coats for those without.

“It continues to be one of the exceptional indicators of the need in the community and the generosity,” said Hudgins. “I certainly appreciate Reston Interfaith’s work to coordinate it.” Hudgins pointed out that coats and volunteers are still need.

Joan Bennett has volunteered with the Coat Closet for the past year. “It just feels good to know that people aren’t discarding their old coats that might be used by those in need,” said Joan Bennett. “It makes you feel good that you’re helping.”

Since mid-November, Bennett has volunteered at the Coat Closet once a week. Bennett, who retired last year, is hooked on giving back to the community.

Recently, she said, she remembers seeing a young girl come to the Coat Closet, find an almost new red coat, and then grin in front of the mirror. “She must have stood in front of the mirror smiling for six minutes,” said Bennett. It’s moments like that, she said, that make her realize how important her efforts are.

IT SEEMS each year that the coat donations increase. “Each year, we’re amazed at the generosity of the program,” said Susan Stolpe, Reston Interfaith’s volunteer manager.

“We serve anybody in the community, no questions asked,” said Stolpe. “Anybody who needs a warm winter coat can come into the closet and choose any number of coats they need for themselves or their family.”

After the opening week, the Coat Closet had distributed more than 700 coats. “We were able to do that because the community had really come through by donating coats,” said Stolpe, who added that the closet also accepts a variety of winter accessories, including hats, gloves and scarves.

“People know [the Coat Closet is] there and they have come to anticipate it and look forward to it,” said Bennett, who thinks awareness about the service is spreading each year. On the first day the Coat Closet opened this year, the message was out. “There were 30 people waiting in line in the lobby,” said Bennett.