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By: Danielle Ray, Sentinel & Enterprise, 12/2/2020

(From top) Our Father’s House staff member Heidi Beaulac, Harvard Pilgrim Sr. Project Manager Bridget Cyr, Our Father’s House director Kevin MacLean (black mask holding brown coat), Fitchburg police Lt. Jeff Howe, (front row, from left) WCSO Officer Shaun Mullaney, Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, WCSO Officer John Travaglio, WCSO Community Outreach Specialist Daniel Blute, and Director of Fitchburg Community Corrections Center Mark Leary.

FITCHBURG – Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis on behalf of his Sheriff’s Office and in cooperation with Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging Inc. delivered 2,500 brand new winter coats to a number of underserved communities around Worcester County Tuesday.

Evangelidis visited five charitable organizations in Fitchburg, Gardner and Leominster Tuesday to deliver the coats, which will be distributed to those in the community in need.

“This is our finest hour,” Evangelidis said to the crowd gathered at Our Father’s House Inc. in Fitchburg. “This community has so many great organizations, I am meeting the people who do God’s work.”

Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis (left) and Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale share a moment while giving out coats at Our Father’s House on Tuesday.

Mayor Stephen DiNatale thanked Evangelidis and his staff for the generous donation, and Our Father’s House Homeless Services Director Kevin MacLean said that some of the regulars who stay at and receive services from the homeless shelter there have been asking when “the sheriff’s coats” would arrive.

This is huge, we depend each year on this great coat donation,” MacLean said. “The coats will probably all be gone by the end of the week.”

Unlike in past years, coat drive collection boxes could not be placed around the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, along with its co-sponsor Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging, Inc., relied solely on community grants, monetary gifts, and new coat donations to make the annual coat drive possible.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care gave the sheriff’s office a $1,000 grant to help sponsor the coat drive.

“Harvard Pilgrim is all about making our communities happy and healthy,” said Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Sr. Project Manager Bridget Cyr.

In addition to the coats, 1,800 pairs of Bombas brand socks that were donated by AmeriCorps Seniors and RSVP Volunteers of Central Massachusetts were also distributed.