SVdP Vincentian Services Manager Steve Krank beams as he unveils the coats donated by Free Country Apparel.

When it comes to affecting change, there is no greater force than a community coming together. On Thursday, December 2nd, 2021, those of us at St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County got to experience the power of community first hand. The clothing company Free Country Apparel, donated 30 pallets of warm, water-proof winter coats to SVdP just in time for the rainy season. SVdP worked with our volunteers throughout the County, as well as several other nonprofit organizations, to distribute thousands of coats to those in need throughout the Bay Area.

“These coats will do a lot of good in our community,” Gary Piermattei, President of SVdP’s branch at Christ the King Church in Pleasant Hill said. “We have a lot of people that come to our food pantry at Christ the King that will love these coats and will get a lot of use out of them.”

The Pittsburg Youth Development Center (PYDC) was one nonprofit SVdP was able to partner with to distribute coats. The PYDC is a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing underserved children athletic and extracurricular activity opportunities they may not receive otherwise. Open during the periods when local schools are closed, such as Summer vacations, the PYDC provides underserved children activities and opportunities for little to no cost, while allowing working parents to have peace of mind knowing their children are being cared for.

A group of children from Pittsburg, CA receive free coats at the Pittsburg Youth Development Center.

Executive Director of the PYDC Willie Moffett said, “We hosted a toy drive and a coat distribution on the same day. We had well over 100 children from the Pittsburg area come and get a nice warm coat, and a toy to help brighten their holiday. It was a really great thing for the community.

The donated coats came in all shapes and sizes, allowing SVdP volunteers to distribute the coats to not only adults, but children and infants as well. The coats were donated to SVdP by Free Country Apparel, after they spoke to their business partners at Matson Shipping, longtime friends of SVdP who care deeply about giving back to their community. Matson Shipping is a longtime friend of SVdP, having donated multiple shipping containers which have allowed SVdP thrift stores and food pantries to store and protect food and merchandise.

“These coats are really amazing, we’re truly blessed Free Country donated them,” Steve Krank SVdP Vincentian Services Manager said. “What’s really incredible though, is Free Country was connected to us through a longtime friend of SVdP, Matson Shipping. Their business partners at Free Country wanted to make a donation that would impact a community in need, the big hearts at Matson Shipping thought of St. Vincent de Paul, and we’re extremely grateful for that.”

Based in New York, Free Country Apparel was founded in the 1990s. Their clothing is regularly sold in stores such as JC Penney, Target, Nordstrom and Sierra. Free Country Apparel is well-known for its durability and its warmth.

SVdP is extremely grateful to both Free Country Apparel and Matson Shipping. Their generosity and dedication to helping communities in need is truly inspirational. The coats donated by Free Country Apparel have already made a difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable residents in Contra Costa County.