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Annual Coat Drive Fills Growing Need in Worcester County.




SOUTHBRIDGE — Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis brought a little warmth to town last week, as he stopped at three locations in Southbridge for the 2013 Sheriff’s Annual Winter Coat Drive on Thursday, Dec. 5.


“There’s much need for the coats in this area,” Evangelidis said.


Evangelidis distributed roughly 480 coats to the three locations in Southbridge, giving each place about 15 bags filled with 10 to 15 coats each.


The sheriff first stopped at the Tradewinds Clubhouse at 309 Main St.


“You guys make us proud,” Evangelidis said of Tradewinds Clubhouse.


The employees and members of Tradewinds Clubhouse offered a thank you card to Evangelidis for the donation.


Evangelidis then moved to Catholic Charities, at 79 Elm St., to give more coats.


“We’re extremely grateful,” said Area Administrator for Catholic Charities of Worcester County Lisa Genest.


Catholic Charities has been offering coats for no charge during the season for nine years, Genest said.


“I can’t imagine how a parent feels when they can’t provide a coat for their child,” Genest said.


The coats were available from Catholic Charities starting Friday, Dec. 6. Finally, Evangelidis stopped at the Center of Hope at 100 Foster St.


“This will be so great,” said Public Relations and Administration of the Center of Hope Cindy Howard, “This will fill a void of need here.”


Howard told Evangelidis of the many services and events they offer to the town.


As he said at the other locations, Evangelidis said the Center of Hope was “very inspiring.”


Evangelidis became Worcester County sheriff in January 2011 and inherited the Annual Winter Coat Drive.


“This is his third year doing it,” said Office of the Worcester County Sheriff Director of External Affairs Kim Roy, “and he’s expanded it so much.”


“We went from donating hundreds of coats each year to donating thousands,” Evangelidis said.


Evangelidis was not alone in his donations to Southbridge.


“We could not be here without Spiro,” Evangelidis said, referring to Southbridge Middle High School history teacher Spiro Thomo. “The school really stepped up for the cause.”


Thomo and fellow teacher Rick Carraro helped to receive coats along with the Southbridge Student Council.


“The students on the Student Council thought it would be a great idea,” Thomo said.
Beginning at the end of October through the last week of November, students, teachers and faculty members donated coats to the cause of the Sheriff’s Annual Winter Coat drive.
“We collected about 482 coats,” Thomo said.
Twin City Cleaners of Dudley then washed all the coats before putting them in bags to be distributed.


“We’re so proud of all the people at Southbridge Middle High School,” Evangelidis said.


Prior to visiting Southbridge, Evangelidis began the day at 9:30 a.m. by giving away coats in Northern Worcester County as well, totaling more than 2,000 coats given by the last stop at 3 p.m. on Thursday.


There were many happy and grateful faces seen where the sheriff traveled that day.


“It’s amazing to me that there’s so much need everywhere,” Evangelidis said.