CALAIS, Maine — Freshly laundered coats, hats, and mittens for girls, boys, women, and men are now on display in a room inside of the Immaculate Conception Church in Calais. Anyone in need of a winter coat is welcome to stop by on Sundays.
"People need coats, and I feel good doing this," 15-year-old Edge Venuti told NEWS CENTER Maine.
This is the first year that the Immaculate Conception Church in Calais has opened up a Sunday community coat closet for residents in need. Since September, different local organizations, including the Calais Regional Hospital and the Immaculate Conception Church, have been receiving donations of gently used or new coats.
The St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish youth group received the donations and took them to a nearby dry cleaner. Starting Sunday, December 13 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., people can stop by and shop for a coat for free at Immaculate Conception Church, located at 31 Calais Avenue.
Monique Claverie is a volunteer who coordinates the youth ministry at the church. Claverie says because of all of the donations from the local community and the dedication of the youth group, many families and individuals in the Calais area will have their bodies, and hearts, warmed this winter.
"We are collecting donations and laundering any coats of any size, along with hats, mittens, and scarfs (and) organizing the, for anyone in the community in need to come and take what they need," says Claverie.
The coat closet will be open next Sunday, December 20 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on the first and third Sundays of each month -- starting with January 3 and 17 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. before evening mass.
"There is a huge need for help in this area and we just thought this is one way that we could contribute to helping," says Claverie.
People who visit the coat closet will be asked to wear a mask, provide contact tracing information, and follow all the CDC guidelines. Masks and hand sanitizer will be provided, if needed. Five people will be allowed inside of the free coat room at a time.
If you have a new or gently used coat that you would like to donate and live in the Calais region, it is not too late to help a neighbor in need. You can still donate at the Calais Regional Hospital (24 Hospital Lane in Calais) and the Immaculate Conception Church (31 Calais Avenue in Calais). You can call the parish before you go at 207-454-0680.