Christmas for the Coat returns with changes

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A year hiatus due to the pandemic, Christmas for the Coat — the annual fundraiser for the Washington County Food Pantry — will return, albeit in a different format.

“After giving it lots and lots of consideration, we just didn't feel like it was yet safe to bring that many people together in a small space, sharing food,” said JoEllen Maras, vice president of the Washington County Food Pantry Board of Directors. “But we didn't feel right about just canceling it again. It's an important community event and people look forward to it and enjoy it.”

Instead, the food pantry will host a drive-through event in the alley behind its building on Dec. 8. Tickets are $10. Patrons will receive a hot breakfast box, which will include a breakfast burrito from Butch's Deli, doughnuts from Jim and Connie's Bakery and a piece of fruit.

Craig Heuton of Edward Jones has donated coffee, juice and water.

“All of the proceeds as always go to support the pantry because we run on donations and sales from the store,” Maras said.

Food donations can also be dropped off during the event.

“We're going to communicate what our needs are at the time and that will be publicized,” Maras said. “We will have a donation receptacle, and we'll have board members on hand, too.”

Additional details will be announced on social media and in the newspaper as the event nears.

Maras said board members were grateful for the community's support in 2020. Despite not hosting its annual fundraiser, many of the sponsors of the event still contributed their funds.

“A lot of them gave to us their normal sponsorship level and so it was very heartwarming to still get that support,” she said.

Though this year's event will be different, Maras said it was important to board members to still have a fundraiser.

“Last year, there was still a lot of unknowns and it was just a given that we weren't going to have it,” she said. “This year, it was a harder decision, but it was very important for us to do something. This is where, I think, (Strategic Director) Denise (Cada) came up with a great alternative.

“We can fulfill our mission without the community. I know I already stated it, but we run on donations. This community has been so generous to us throughout the pandemic that we've been able to keep our doors open without missing a beat. That's because of the community, absolutely, 100 percent.”

From January through October, the food pantry, on average, has served 99 families, 235 individuals and 5,263 meals.

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