YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – At the start of this winter, a local charity group teamed with veterans in Hubbard to help people without a home stay warm.
The Youngstown Blue Coats is based out of Hubbard. They give out cold weather gear like coats, hats, gloves, boots, and socks to local homeless people. They hold clothing drives throughout the community where donations are made and then search for people in danger of freezing in the winter. They also work with local rescue missions.
“If we’re going to a mission or to a specific outreach program, they tell people we’re coming and we just hand things out. We don’t ask any questions,” said Patty Summers, president and CEO of Youngstown Blue Coats. “We try to make sure that when they leave my bus, they have shelter. We give them a tent and if we’re out of those, we give them a tarp and a pair of chords to make a tent.”
The bus Patty is talking about is one that was donated to them by another organization.
The group started with just three volunteers. Now, they are up to 20.
“All the people that I have on my team all have the same kind of heart for this. You have to have a desire to want to help people,” Summer said.
After coming across so many homeless in our community, Patty came to learn a sobering reality – many are veterans. She eventually connected with Jesse Regan, an army war veteran and member of the Hubbard VFW. Reagan then recruited other members to the Blue Coats to focus on helping homeless veterans.
“We help everybody that we come across, but we focus on veterans. If we come down to two people at the end of the night and we only have one coat left, if one of them is a veteran, then the veteran is going to get that coat. Nine times out of ten, that veteran is going to give it to someone who needs it anyway,” Regan said.
The Blue Coats work throughout the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys and have traveled as far as Pittsburgh. They focus on helping veterans but believe no one in America should be in danger of freezing.
“Eight of our volunteers with the Blue Coats are members here at the VFW. We are veterans helping veterans. We are Americans helping American,” Regan said.
The Volunteers of the Youngstown Blue Coats are a distinguished group and are this week’s 33 WYTV Hometown Heroes.
If you’d like to donate to their cause or help volunteer, just visit their Facebook page.