By Jack Minch, Sentinel & Enterprise
LEOMINSTER — Sheriff Lew Evangelidis got an assist from New England Revolution soccer star Diego Fagundez delivering over 1,000 coats to the Spanish American Center Thursday.
“It’s an honor to do this,” Evangelidis said. “It’s a wonderful time for all of us to give back a little bit.”
Evangelidis made eight stops throughout Worcester County delivering coats.
He started in Gardner then made stops at the Cleghorn Neighborhood Center and Hope Center in Fitchburg before arriving in Leominster.
Evangelidis is scheduled to continue his deliveries in Worcester and Southbridge today.
Fagundez made a special trip to help deliver the coats to Leominster.
A black van pulled up to the center and Fagundez joined a line of volunteers hauling large black plastic bags filled with coats inside.
The Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Association coordinates collection of the coats for the disadvantaged. The coats are new and gently used.
Wachusett Mountain Ski Area jump-started this year’s collection by donating 1,000, said Kimberly Roy, external-affairs director for Evangelidis’ office.
Fagundez who traveled with his father to Washington, wore a Leominster soccer hoodie. He recently completed his high-school coursework and will graduate with his Leominster High School classmates in the spring, and jumped at the opportunity to help deliver the coats.
“I said of course, it’s a good cause,” he said. “It’s a nice thing to do and since it’s my hometown I wanted to do it.”
The center’s executive director, Neddy Latimer, and advocate Nicolas Formaggia said there is a strong need for the coats.
“You’d be surprised there are so many people who don’t have what they need,” Latimer said.
In years past, people who needed the coats were invited to the delivery party but it created chaos so this year the center is collecting requests and sorting the coats before handing them out.
“We can make a more fair distribution,” Formaggia said.
Evangelidis started by delivering 300 coats in Gardner then 300 at each at Cleghorn Neighborhood Center and Hope Center in Fitchburg.
“I hope people know these are nice, clean coats, they aren’t just in a bag,” Evangelidis said.
Wachusett Mountain, Dr. D’Ambrosio Eye Care, the New England Revolution and Gardner Museum collected coats and jackets for the program, as well as individual donors.
“I wanted to say thank you from us,” Latimer.