Salvation Army 'flooded with donations' after 200 coats stolen before Christmas dinner
Good Samaritans donated coats and clothing all day, executive director says
Manitobans have stepped up to help the Salvation Army help those in need of winter coats, after 200 brand-new jackets were stolen hours before its annual Christmas dinner on Wednesday.
The winter coats, still covered in plastic and set aside in boxes, were taken in a break-in and theft at the Winnipeg shelter hours before its start time that morning.
They were supposed to be handed out to people during the dinner.
Capt. Rodney Bungay, the Salvation Army's executive director, said Mayor Brian Bowman called to ask how he could help, and a steady stream of good Samaritans came through the Salvation Army all day to drop off coats and other clothing items.
"It's a small hiccup in our day. Honestly, the community has been amazing. We've been flooded with donations today — coats, you name it," he said.
Among those who received coats at Wednesday's dinner was Phylis Ark, 81, who plans to give hers to a family member.
"I'm going to give that to my son because my son is sick and he has cancer," she said.
"All I can say is thank you and God bless for everything."
Brad Hollingsworth, who lives at Salvation Army, said the donations are incredible.
"What can I say? It's all great for a lot of people who needs it," he said. "I can't think of one person that doesn't appreciate it."
The shelter has served more than 1,000 people hot traditional Christmas dinners with all the trimmings in past years, while handing out free coats, winter clothing, books and backpacks.
Theft reported to police
Earlier in the day, Bungay explained that the stolen coats were still wrapped in plastic and set aside in boxes, ready to be handed out at the dinner.
"It's interesting because they must have known what was there," he said.
"They walked beyond the stuff that couldn't be moved quickly and went directly to the boxes that were filled with the brand-new coats."
Those boxes were locked in the shelter's free store, where people can take what they need during specific hours.
"Individuals can come in the middle of the night or early in the morning when other stores may not be open," Bungay said.
"From that space, we can help provide them footwear, a warm coat or whatever the case may be."
The theft has been reported to the Winnipeg Police Service, he said.
Bungay said the Salvation Army will be getting more coats later this week. Staff will be following up with people who need coats in special sizes.