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Give gLOVEs: NOEL Community seeks gloves, hats, socks and blankets to aid less fortunate during chilly winter months

(Jan. 25, 2013) Hats, gloves and scarves certainly came in handy this week, as the daily high temperature hovered around 26 degrees and fell as low at 12 degrees when the sun went down.

Unfortunately, some people aren’t so lucky — while there are still about two months of winter remaining, a number of people in the community are without items to keep them warm.

To aid those men, women and children in need, the NOEL Community will begin collecting donations of new gloves, hats, socks and blankets next month. As part of its 11th annual gLOVEs Drive, items can be dropped off Feb. 1-15, at the Ocean Pines library on Cathell Road. A collection bin will be set up in the lobby.

Katie Coffman, co-chairwoman of the NOEL (Nothing Other than Eating and Loving) Community planning committee, said hundreds of gloves, hats, socks and blankets are collected annually and distributed to local food pantries and social service groups.

“The community has always been very generous,” she said. “[The gLOVEs Drive] has always been successful.”

In 2012, several boxes or bags filled with gloves, hats and socks were presented to Shepherd’s Crook food and clothing pantry at St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church on Third Street in Ocean City; Diakonia, a crisis shelter in West Ocean City; Head Start Day Care and Worcester Youth Family Counseling Services, both in Berlin; King’s Kids Day Care in Snow Hill and the Samaritan Shelter in Pocomoke.

Items will again be delivered to local food and clothing pantries, day care facilities and other groups who provide services for lower income families.

“We can use it all. Men’s stuff is always helpful. We always seem to get a lot of ladies stuff,” Coffman said.

The gLOVEs drive is designed with a Valentine’s Day theme — “open your hearts and share the gift of warmth” and love, it encourages donors.

For 15 years, the NOEL Community has served a free turkey and ham dinner on Christmas Day. Because the weather was so cold, committee volunteers Mike and Patricia Smith wanted to expand the organization’s outreach program 11 years ago and decided to have a drive around Valentine’s Day and emphasis the word “LOVE” in “gloves.”

The group served more than 1,400 Christmas Day meals this year at St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church hall to individuals who otherwise would be lonely or hungry. Meals were also delivered and available for carry-out, and toys, toiletries, hats and gloves were provided, as well.

The NOEL Community also serves lunch to those in need. In 2012, the group provided lunch at the church every Saturday and on about a dozen other days. Guests who came in for the lunch — both hot and cold, depending on the season — were also given an additional serving and snack to take with them.

Hot meals are served January through April.  An average of 200 meals were distributed in a day, Coffman said. And from May to December, lunch and sandwiches are provided. Between 80 and 100 meals were distributed each week.

Coffman said the NOEL Community served about 7,250 meals/sandwiches in 2012.

For information about the gLOVEs Drive or any of the NOEL Community’s other projects, call 410-289-3453.


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