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By: WMaster – December 11, 2017 – Sentinel & Enterprise

Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis was at the Spanish American Center in Leominster on Monday to drop off over 1,000 winter coats.  Leominster’s Warmer Winters hand made hats and gloves for the Sheriff to add to his coats to give out at the center as well.  SMC’s Executive Director Neddy Latimer thanks Sheriff Evangelidis for his help every year.

LEOMINSTER — When Hurricane Maria hit her hometown in Puerto Rico, Lourdes Manzano had just minutes to pack as much as she could into suitcases and trash bags before her flight off the island left in November.

All that the twin hurricanes Irma and Maria left standing were the bare bones of her wood-framed home.

Manzano is living now at Motel 6 in Leominster, accommodations she said were arranged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. The long process of to piecing her life back together has begun.

“I left everything, it’s all gone,” she said Monday in the crowded lobby at the Spanish American Center. “What I’m so scared about is not having a place to go, because I’m not going back.

Manzano was one of dozens at the center on Monday morning who had come to receive a free winter coat through an annual drive run by Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis.

The Spanish American Center, Evangelidis said standing in front of a mound of donated coats, is taking care of those displaced by the catastrophic hurricanes.

“You guys take care of so many people, and especially this year in light of the horrible hurricane that affected Puerto Rico, so many families have come,” he said.

Coats were donated by several independent retailers, and hand-knitted mittens, sweaters and hats given by Warmer Winters. In its seventh year, the Sheriff’s Coat Drive has donated over 25,000 coats, according to the Office of the Sheriff.

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