Winter clothing drive begins

Friday, September 27, 2019 - Updated: 2:41 pm

Pittsburgh Catholic Staff Report

The faithful are called to be the hands and feet of Christ and assist those in need. They can help do that by supporting the third annual Christ’s Hands Project, sponsored by the Pittsburgh Catholic in cooperation with the Red Door ministry of St. Mary of Mercy Parish in Downtown Pittsburgh. 

The drive collects winter hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, coats and afghans that will be distributed at the Red Door’s Christmas Dinner Dec. 21 in Lawless Hall of St. Mary of Mercy.

“It’s truly living out the Gospel message,” said Heidi Potter, co-director of the Red Door. “Being the light on the hill for the people we serve and the city to see.”

Popular items include any kind of Steelers gear. There is also a need for donations for men. Potter pointed out that while all donations are appreciated, it is preferred that the items be new. She also spoke of a need for winter gear such as hand and foot warmers, and handmade items for children that can be given as special gifts.

Potter said there have been many moments that have captured the spirit of the drive and dinner, but she recalled in particular an older woman who expressed appreciation for the drive because it recognizes a need and concern for her as an individual.

“She exudes an authentic gratitude that this is something special,” Potter said.

Carmella Weismantle, operations manager and advertising director for the Pittsburgh Catholic, said she has seen the faces of those who have been touched by the generosity of contributors to the drive.

“They are sincerely grateful,” she said of those who receive items. “Every person who comes through the line to choose what they need says thank you. Some just want to share why they are in need, how they worked hard and how an illness or a loss of a job changed everything. Others are apologetic and are brought to tears knowing that someone cared enough to help, even though they’ve never met them.”

Weismantle related the story of a young man who had lost his job as a laborer. He spoke of how desperate he was to work again, but then he began to inquire about the Christ’s Hands Project and how he could become part of it. He later spoke to Potter’s son, Father Adam Potter, about becoming Catholic.

Weismantle noted that anything one has to share is worth sharing. Even one hat, a pair of gloves or a small financial donation makes a difference.

“Please be Christ’s hands this winter,” she said. “Your gift will warm more than just the person.”

In addition to the donated items, more than $4,000 was contributed to the project last year. The dinner served more than 200 people.

Donations to this year’s project can be dropped off at the Red Door from 9 a.m.-noon, Monday through Saturday. It is located on the Boulevard of the Allies side of St. Mary of Mercy, 202 Stanwix St. Special arrangements for dropping off donations can be made by calling 412-261-0112.

Checks should be made payable to the Pittsburgh Catholic and designated for “Christ’s Hands Project” in the memo line. Mail to Christ’s Hands Project, 111 Boulevard of the Allies, Suite 200, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

The Red Door has served the hungry for nearly 90 years. It provides lunches six days a week — Monday through Saturday — and hosts an Easter dinner and other gatherings. Donations are always welcome, even things such as pet food. People have been known to give up their food for pets, who may be their only real companion in life.

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