LYNN — A Swampscott resident, a retired North Shore Community College employee and students joined forces to help needy local residents stay warm this winter.
Well-known among fellow North Shore realtors, Patricia Davern reached out to generous friends and neighbors at The Residence in Vinnin Square to collect more than 60 coats along with gloves, mittens and hats for distribution.
Davern and student employees in the NSCC Student Engagement office on the Lynn campus handed out most of the coats last week, but more are available for distribution as donations come in.
“People have been so generous. Someone even dropped off two brand-new coats,” Davern said.
Lynn resident Frederick Kamara picked up a warm, weather-resistant red coat to wear during the winter and thanked Davern for the collection drive.
“New coats are expensive,” he said.
The coat drive grew out of retired NSCC learning specialist Ina Michelle Resnikoff’s efforts working with Amanda Dooling, NSCC director of student engagement, to outfit Lynn campus students with warm clothes. Some could not afford winter gear, while others moved recently to the United States from tropical countries and had no concept of a New England winter.
“They were in the snow in flip-flops,” Resnikoff recalled.
She credits Swampscott resident Dr. Ralph Epstein in 2015 with answering the call for coats for the college. Epstein urged his friends to donate used winter clothing.
“He donated about 100. He has the biggest heart of anyone,” said Resnikoff.
Davern joined the coat drive after meeting students who stretched their college budgets to pay for winter clothing. She knew many friends and clients who were moving into smaller homes and needed to part with property, including winter clothes.
“I started telling people about the coat drive,” she said.
The Swampscott coat lady’s collection efforts resulted in 30 coats distributed in 2016. She recalled one man walking into the Student Engagement office in a T-shirt and other people who needed gloves and hats.
“I’m thrilled we have the coats for these people,” Davern said.
Resnikoff said generous donors bring in baby blankets and other items to help students who balance work and childcare with school. She gave a coat last Thursday to Lynn resident Peter Vayeos, who needed it for his brother.
“The important thing is warmth and providing adequate clothing in the cold weather,” she said.
Angelina Munoz works in the Student Engagement office and loves seeing the smiles on the faces of people picking up cold weather clothing. She collected a coat last week for her mother, Elina.
“We usually shop in the summer but that’s when there aren’t a lot of winter clothes on sale,” Munoz said.