The Bayport-Blue Point community Lions Club will host its 14th annual coat drive to help community members in need of some extra warmth this holiday season.
Started in the winter of 2005, the coat drive has been a success in collecting coats, jackets, gloves, scarves, hats and other warm clothing. The items (of which there are typically thousands) are donated to local community groups for distribution. Groups include parish outreaches, churches in the Sayville, Bayport, Blue Point and Patchogue areas, community groups serving at-risk populations, and local school districts. The Lions choose to donate to local groups as a way to reach those in need faster than a national charity.
Items donated are normally in good condition and neatly cleaned (i.e. ready for distribution). This year the Lions have already sent out two large batches of winter clothes ahead of Thanksgiving. The BBP chapter of the Lions Club was established in 2002 in accordance with the international Lions Club tenets of charity in local settings. As Helen Keller was instrumental in the founding of the order, a nickname for Lions is “Knights of the Blind,” and they often raise funds and volunteer for causes concerned with this particular affliction. In addition to their winter coat drive, the Lions collect eyeglasses year-round (a drop-off box is located at King Kullen in Blue Point) and support a guide dog foundation. The BBP chapter has 20 members from all over the South Shore (Lions, as an international club, do not have to be locals of the area).