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Shields Nursing Center warms up hearts with free coats

on December 15, 2014

At around nine on a chilly Saturday morning a line of nearly 300 people wrapped around the corner of Cutting and 20th Street as they giddily waited for a Christmas present that would keep them warm.

Shields Nursing Center was turned into a winter wonderland as community members and staff gave out 200 free coats and candy canes to Richmond youth during their annual Warm Coat Giveaway. The event started at noon and by 2pm every child in line had a coat. Those who came after the coats ran out were given money to purchase one.

The annual Warm Coat Giveaway started in 2009 serving warmth during the chilly season to Richmond youth. This is the first year the event was run by Shield’s Director of Administrative Affairs, Terri Gascie, who has assisted with the event in the past.

“I love to help!” Gascie said. “ I see, from being here the past several years, the need, and it really makes you feel good to help.”

Many families said this is an event they look forward to every year. Some children were wearing the coats they had received last year and outgrew. Tanta Morgain has been coming to the event for several years and says, this year, the timing couldn’t have been any better.

“My car just got stolen and my son’s coat was in the trunk,” said Morgain. “That was about three weeks ago. So it’s a blessing that he’s here today so he can get a new one.”

Shelly Ross-Bell, a community member who donated 18 coats, said this was her first time joining the event and was excited that she had the chance to see the children’s faces when they put on their new coats for the first time.

“The best part is seeing the little children’s faces light up when they get a new coat,” Bell said. “As you know, it’s cold out there and they have to go to school so a hood is always helpful.”

Bell was one of two donors who supplied the coats for the giveaway. The family owned Shields facility pitched in to buy the rest of the coats.

As children smiled with coats in hand, parents and Shields staff taking pictures to capture the moment, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin stepped in to thank Shields for filling one of the needs in Richmond.

“I wanted to see this wonderful display of giving these warm coats away, and you know, this is how we continue to move an empowered community along,” said McLaughlin, “show up and make sure people know how much those of us in office appreciate their volunteer work.”

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