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Bronzeville church distributes more than 1,000 winter coats ahead of Christmas

Apostolic Faith Church, 3823 S. Indiana Ave., has done a coat drive for 30 years.

Apostolic Faith Church, 3823 S. Indiana Ave., handed out 1,100 free winter coats on Thursday.
Apostolic Faith Church, 3823 S. Indiana Ave., handed out 1,100 free winter coats on Thursday.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times

The line started inside Bronzeville’s Apostolic Faith Church and stretched around the corner onto East Pershing Road, where people waited patiently for a free, new winter coat.

Steven Baldwin is director of ministry for the church, 3823 S. Indiana Ave., which has held a coat drive for 30 years. But this year, he said, the work has been even more important.

“We noticed that during Chicago’s cold season that people are going without warm hats and coats, so our ministry at this time is not only going to provide food but to also provide these necessary items that people need to survive,” Baldwin said.

“We recognize people are really going through it right now with COVID and having hard times economically, so what’s more of a way to demonstrate the ministry of Jesus than to help provide the material things that is need to survive.”

The line to get a new winter coat stretched along Pershing Road outside Apostolic Faith Church in Bronzeville on Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021. It’s the 30th year of the giveaway; the coats — along with winter hats and gloves — are paid for by church members.
The line to get a new winter coat stretched along Pershing Road outside Apostolic Faith Church in Bronzeville on Thursday. It’s the 30th year of the giveaway; the coats — along with winter hats and gloves — are paid for by church members.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times

The giveaway on Thursday morning saw the distribution of more than 1,100 new coats, mostly donated by the church’s congregation.

Once inside, recipients could shop among racks of coats, looking for something that was right for them. They then put their chosen coat into an oversized, Christmas-themed bag — along with a pair of gloves and a winter hat, too.

Rev. Robert Tillery, associate minister at Apostolic Faith Church, said Thursday’s event was primarily for adults in need. Food and clothing drives this time of year are usually centered around children, Tillery said, but he added it’s also important for adults in need to receive help during the holiday.

The church is doing a children’s event, too; toys will be distributed at the church starting at 10 a.m. Friday. Kids will given bags filled with “quality and not cheap toys,” Tillery promised.

“The responsibility we see as a church is to make certain that kids are experiencing what the meaning of this season is, and they are impacted by a church that cares for them,” Tillery said. “It is important that kids see joy on Christmas morning. A lot of kids in our community are not able to receive gifts, and we want to do our best to make sure that’s no longer the case.”

People shop among the free coats being offered inside Apostolic Faith Church in Bronzeville on Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021. It’s the 30th year of the giveaway; the coats — along with winter hats and gloves — are paid for by church members.
People shop among the free coats being offered inside Apostolic Faith Church in Bronzeville on Thursday. It’s the 30th year of the giveaway; the coats — along with winter hats and gloves — are paid for by church members.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times