• Marcetta Linton

Coats from the Heart

Have you felt the temperature outside lately, it's cold. Many places are covered in glittery snow. Even Florida was colder than usual this year. Should this be a surprise for 2020? Maybe not. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to get to know and help your community and neighbors. That is just what Live Oak resident Lorena Gardener did. She coordinated a coat drive for anyone in Live Oak that needed a coat. "a few years ago, a homeless lady was found on the steps of the courthouse dead here in Suwannee County. Her cause of death, Hypothermia. When I heard this, my heart sank into my stomach because I drove past everyday coming and going to town. After all, this was the same homeless person. I knew there was something I could have done, and I didn't. She has stayed on my mind since, even more so when the temperature drops during the winter months."

When asked about the drive, Lorena said, "My idea process was instantaneous. We were coming home from a basketball game, and it was COLD outside. It instantly brought my thoughts back to the homeless lady and how she felt laying there cold without the essential items that could have kept her a little warmer. So I said to my kids, "I think we should do a coat giveaway. We stopped by a Walmart, and I brought the first two jackets to start this journey off. I eventually reached out Via Facebook and word of mouth as to what I wanted to and why our community's response was a welcoming open arm for the idea. People started inboxing me and bringing donations to me. I had people donate from surrounding counties, and even a few shipped brand new jackets to me from out of state. Two women donated monetary gifts, and I was able to go to a local thrift store and shop till I dropped. I left with tons of items for men, women, and children. I was so ecstatic!!! "

Lorena is planning to do another coat drive to give out the remainder of her coats. When asked about how people can help and make an impact in their communities, she said this "I believe that people can help out this season by just being selfless. I know we want to give our list for Santa to check twice, but it's just a nice breath of fresh air to see others putting their wants to the side to help others with their needs. It's so heartwarming, which is where our Title and theme came from for our event, which is called "Love Warms The Heart." I am thankful to all of those in our community who have shown themselves to be so selfless this holiday season. I hope this is only the beginning of showing how our actions can speak so much louder than words. Love surely does warm the heart.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to help one another and be kind.

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