What I learned from 500 Coats…

The coats keep coming in so we may end up with more like “600 Coats for Christmas”.  Amazing.  I’m looking forward to celebrating this Sunday…but here’s some final thoughts on the whole thing in the mean time.  

  • Tell people what needs to happen-not how to do it.  Lots of people used lots of different methods to make this happen.  Some set up donation points at their places of business.  Others collected great used coats from friends.  Some purchased a coat or two each time they went to the big box store.  Others who could, bought dozens of coats themselves. Everyone who contributed did so in a different way.   If we would have had “ONE PLAN” instead of  one GOAL…we probably would have failed.
  • You can’t over-communicate a goal.  We publicised our goal of donating 500 coats in every way we could possibly think of.   (Thanks Josiah for the artwork-we are blessed to have some of his talent directing our efforts)  We talked about it.  Blogged about it.  Showed pictures of the coats coming in.  (Thanks Garrett-big time).  There were posters on the walls, graphics on the screens, and cards in your hands.  We wanted EVERYONE who came in contact with actionchurch to know what we were attempting.
  • You don’t need to lie or “over-hype” to get people to respond.  We told folks that kids were cold…not that “dozens of cute little boys and girls with giant waif eyes will die if you don’t bring a coat this week” :-)   We also let people know that this was a big goal…it was scary…and we were NOT “sure of success”.  People responded anyway.
  • Faith is about taking action when it DOESN”T seem like you will  (or should) succeed.  Thank you all for helping to build my faith through this whole deal.  The LAST THING that it seemed like should happen, would be to take on a major effort for our community right now.  It seemed like that instead we should play it safe (which is never safe-btw) and prepare financially for equipment and moving expenses for the future.  Quite frankly it seemed “impossible” to meet the need of “500 coats for Christmas” anyway.   I’m NOT saying this to point out my great faith…quite the opposite…I had so many doubts about this whole thing…but I felt that it was the RIGHT thing to do, so we proceeded anyway.  I pray I NEVER forget the lessons learned from “the time we gave 500 coats for Christmas”

…so what have you learned?

500 Coats for Christmas: Mission Accomplished!


Just wanted to make it official.  Today at actionchurch 63 coats were donated, so that means we officially crossed the 500 Coats for Christmas milestone.  Thanks so much to EVERYONE who focused their generosity on the needs of  York City elementary school students!   I love being part of a church that “gets” what it means to give generously…anonymously…no strings attached!  

Look for a few more thoughts about the drive…and a full Sunday update here tomorrow…but I just wanted to thank all of you who made this unbelievable thing happen!

Coat Check


It’s hard to believe but just one month ago we all started on this incredible journey to gather 500 coats for Christmas. I thought it was time for another update so lets recap:

November 4th, 2009. –  0 COATS…None…Nada…Zilche

December 4th, 2009 –   342 COATS DONATED!

Yeah, that’s amazing.  Thank you all for you generosity…and let’s not let up even one little bit.  Bring a coat Sunday so we can go past the 400 coat mark with two weeks to go in our drive.  As hard as may have been to imagine one month ago, over the next three weeks we can surpass our goal to “turn cold kids into warm kids” in York City elementary schools!

2 more things-

We still have approx 15 coats on the $7 black Friday rack not spoken for.   If you can’t bring a coat-bring seven bucks.  There’s no easier way to provide a kid warmth this winter.

We’ll be announcing Sunday that as a church we are purchasing (on order )  500 pairs of gloves and knit hats to go along with the coats.  I am so thankful to be part of a church that when it comes to helping others…always give MORE than is expected.

See ya Sunday!

Black Friday-this Sunday.


Think you missed out on the black Friday $7 children’s coat deal @ walmart?   Thanks to Steve and Mary Grow we’re bringing the deal to you on Sunday!   They just returned victorious from their black Friday “hunt” this morning and now my basement is filled with 88 coats for the kids of York City Elementary Schools.  

 The Grows “extreme shopping  turned a $300 donation we had received (Thanks Dave W!) for coats into 43 coats which we will be turning in today.  We will be bringing the remaining 40+ coats Sunday for generous actionchurch folks to purchase and donate.

Think of it…Black Friday deals on Sunday morning…without the long lines…while you eat a donut and listen to Farewell Flight.   What will we think of next :-)

"500 Coats" update:


It’s been a couple of weeks since we kicked off our effort to gather 500 coats for york city elementary students who desperately need them.   The ironic thing is that I remember when we first heard about the need thinking, “wow, what if they need 100 coats…how could we ever give that many?”  When I learned that they need 500 for the five elementary students…I think I blacked out for a little bit   :-)

Check this though:   FORTY ONE (41) coats were donated this Sunday alone!  Next Sunday we will definitely take that number over 100!  (We have 66 coats so far.)   I thought that gathering 100 coats was an enormous “ask”…a herculean task…but we will be blowing past that in week 3 of our efforts!    I am so thankful that this challenge was TOO BIG for us as a church.  I am glad that I see it both  stretching our FAITH and engaging our creativity.  It’s exciting to hear the stories about how you all are spreading the word and making this seemingly “impossible” thing happen.  

****We have a new business drop off point. **** 

  MyFavorite Deli

3397 North George Street,

 Emigsville, PA – 717-764-4461  

 You can check out all our business drop off partners (here).  Thank you all!!!