T he Christmas tree at the Granville Baptist Church is doing double duty this winter. During a time when many more need a helping hand, members of the Rev. Jim Peterson’s congregation have kept the holiday tree up for another purpose – as a beacon for those who want to help others.
What once was a Christmas tree is now a Mitten Tree. “There’s a great need for all kinds of help because people are struggling economically,” Peterson said. In Granville Peterson said it has been his experience the people who need assistance are often the working poor, who need a bit of help from services like the ecumenical food pantry making it from pay day to pay day.
“We get a lot of people who come in and take advantage of the free bread we give out every Wednesday at 9 a.m. and they appreciate the help,” he said,
Peterson said parishioner Irene Bogart was once of those who came up with the idea of attaching gloves, mittens, hats, scarves and any cold weather gear to the tree and then taking those donations to the Granville Ecumenical Council Coat Closet.
As a skilled knitter Bogart already has several pairs of mittens as well as scarves on the tree.
The congregation will gather up donations and then take them to the closet possibly later this month.
“It’s kind of the American way that people pitch in and help out when people are in need; here in Granville it’s a very grassroots effort with local people helping local people,” Peterson said.
Items donated to the tree go to the Coat Closet. The Rev. Jerry McKinney said the coat closet typically closes by this time of the winter season but it will remain open because it has a good-sized inventory.
“We’ve been doing this for a number of years; people can come and take what they need, no questions asked,” McKinney said.
The closet holds gently used, donated cold weather gear from hats and mittens to coats and sweaters from kids to adult sizes.
Those who would like to donate their gently used winter clothing can drop off items when the Coat Closet is open Saturdays.
While the closet has a good stock of already donated items, McKinney said there is always a need, particularly in children’s and larger adult sizes.
The Coat Closet is located in the basement of the Bethel-Peniel Presbyterian Church on Quaker Street and opens Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.