Annual church coat drive begins Sunday

Vote with a coat, is Genevieve Eason's rallying cry.

"November is a time we express our opinions," she said. "We make our opinions known in a few ways in November, and one of the most important ways to let our neighbors know we care is by donating a coat at the annual town Coat Drive," she said.

Ms. Eason is chairperson of the drive, which will be held at the Wilton Congregational Church from Sunday, Nov. 4 through Tuesday, November 6. Gently used coats, linens, bedding and sleeping bags will be collected and delivered to neighbors in need in Wilton and Bridgeport.

"The Coat Drive is a wonderful community endeavor," Ms. Eason said. "The process begins with generous donations, then more than a dozen Wilton teen and adult volunteers sort and bag the items. To transport all this we are lucky to have a truck loaned to us by Will Joyce of Joyce Van Lines, of Oxford, Conn."

The donations are divided into two categories: those requested by Wilton families through Wilton Social Services, and those delivered to the Community Closet of Bridgeport. Nearly 4,000 clients depend on the Community Closet, including victims of domestic violence and fire, as well as new immigrants. The organization has come to depend on Wilton every fall, Ms. Eason said.

"We make a commitment to the WCC Coat Drive because we know that each coat, each blanket and each hat and glove means the difference between a secure winter and a miserable one for our neighbors," Ms. Eason said.

The drive has a long history in Wilton. According to organizers, it began nearly 50 years ago when women in town learned children in Alabama weren't able to go to school because they didn't own shoes. Eventually, shipping donations to the south became too expensive, and the needs of Fairfield County residents became apparent.

Four years ago, members of Wilton Congregational Church began organizing the drive. The project is important to the church, according to Suzanne Wagner, the church's interim minister.

"This effort is a true reflection of the mission of Wilton Congregational Church," she said, "and we have been very grateful to the community for responding so generously. It shows the heart and soul of Wilton in their concern for their neighbors in need."

Wilton Congregational Church is at 70 Ridgefield Road. Donations will be accepted on Sunday from 11 to 2, and Monday and Tuesday from 8 to 4.

For more information on Bridgeport Community Closet, visit