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SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Alana Melanson From left, Fitchburg Community Corrections Program Director Mark Leary, Cleghorn Neighborhood Center Executive Director Joana Dos Santos, Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, Spanish American Center Counselor Nicolas Formaggia and Fitchburg Community Corrections intern Tynan Bruso kick off the 2012 Sheriff's Annual Winter Coat Drive for Northern Worcester County on Monday.

Sentinel & Enterprise
11/06/2012 06:33:30 AM EST

FITCHBURG — Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, along with representatives from local nonprofit organizations, kicked off the 2012 Sheriff’s Annual Winter Coat Drive for Northern Worcester County at the Fitchburg Office of Community Corrections on Monday.

Last year, the winter coat drive collected and distributed more than 1,300 new and lightly used winter jackets to families in need, Evangelidis said. He and his nonprofit partners are determined to surpass that goal this year, with the hope of reaching between 1,800 and 2,000 donated coats.

“As one young girl said to me last year, ‘Sheriff, this is so much more than a coat,’ and that statement — I understood perfectly what she meant,” Evangelidis said. “She meant that she’s no longer cold, she has dignity, she has a feeling of warmth, and you can’t really put that in words.”

The program started seven years ago in Cleghorn, Evangelidis said, and originally served only Northern Worcester County. Under Evangelidis, the program has been expanded to include all of Worcester County, with donation centers in Worcester and Southbridge serving their respective areas.

Donations of new or lightly used winter jackets can be dropped off at the Fitchburg Office of Community Corrections at 19 Fairmont Place, Independent Cleaners at 1 Wallace Road, or at Wachusett Mountain Ski Area now through the beginning of December. Donation pickups can also be scheduled by calling the Fitchburg Office of Community Corrections at 978-342-1600.

On Dec. 5, the donated coats will be provided to the Cleghorn Neighborhood Center of Fitchburg, the Spanish American Center of Leominster and the Community Action Committee of Gardner to be distributed to members of the community who are in need.

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