Standing, from left: Nancy Brick, of Millbury, and Marilyn Baker, of Walbridge. Seated, from left: Dian Greenlese, of Walbridge; Janice Mallory, of Millbury; and Judy Sigler, of Walbridge. The women of St. Paul's United Methodist of Millbury have 47 coats they have purchased to be distributed to children in Lake Local Schools.
The Blade/Jetta Fraser
MILLBURY — Small but mighty: that’s the image members of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church have of themselves when it comes to doing good deeds.
The congregation has an average attendance of 56 at its single Sunday service at 10:30 a.m., but that doesn’t stop it from punching above its weight when members see a need, especially during the holiday season. The church is in Wood County, about 12 miles southwest of the Toledo limits.
Its women’s group has just finished its annual winter coat drive and this week is to deliver 50 to the Lake Local Schools, where they’ll be distributed to children who teachers have determined can use them.
The women — Judy Sigler, Dian Greenlese, Janice Mallory, Norma Brossia, Marilyn Baker, Tania Park-Thomas, Kathy Petrignani, and Nancy Brick — first saw the need in 2010, after tornadoes killed seven people and destroyed dozens of homes. Church member Carolyn Puehler knits scarves and hats to go with the coats.
“It’s a collaboration between the church and the schools,” explained Sharilyn Boday, the district’s special education and curriculum secretary, who coordinates the coat drive with the church. “We do this for the kids.”
She said the coats will be distributed before Thanksgiving to elementary school students confidentially selected by teachers. Often the students’ parents come in to pick up the garments.
“We also attach a note to the coats saying ‘Stay warm in the winter,’ ” Ms. Boday said.
To purchase the coats, the church women raised about $1,000 by holding meat loaf and spaghetti dinners in the church basement. The coats were purchased at JCPenney. Church members were invited to the fund-raising dinners, but not the general public.
No admission was charged. Instead, donations were left in baskets.
On Sunday, the coats were displayed on the church’s altar rail during the service so congregation members could see them. Ms. Sigler, president of the women’s group, said this was done to let the members see what their generosity had accomplished.
“Without the congregation behind us, we could not do this. The congregation is very supportive,” she explained.
Church members now are gearing up for a Christmas toy drive.
They also collect food twice a year for the pantry at Unity United Methodist Church in East Toledo and toiletries and health care supplies for the Helping Hands of St. Louis Outreach Center in Toledo.
Ms. Boday said the coats will make a big difference this winter to the children receiving them.