Local Lifestyle

“Hoodies from Heaven” collecting sweatshirts to warm county students

by Geoff Fox

Seeing a need for students in Morgan County to stay warm and comfortable in the winter months, one member of the Knights of Columbus at St. Vincent de Paul and his wife created an outreach to help those students in need.

Patrick McBee created Hoodies From Heaven as a way to collect and distribute hoodies to students in Morgan County.

Hoodies From Heaven is a Knights of Columbus apostolate, McBee said, as a way to use the KofC tax exempt ID. This way, if someone were to give 100 hoodies, McBee said a receipt can be written for that person to be deducted.

McBee is a substitute aide in Morgan County Schools and at the middle school, students are not allowed to wear their jackets inside during the school day.

While he said it is a good rule to have, as things can be stuffed in them and they do get bulky, McBee said there are still kids who are cold during the day.

You have to balance how to keep those students warm without a coat or jacket, he said.

Pat McBee holds a hoodie that was donated to the Knights of Columbus’ Hoodies From Heaven campaign for Morgan County students.

“Knowing some of the kids, and some of the kids that go to our parish, they wear hoodies 12 months out of the year,” McBee said.

Last winter, McBee talked to someone at the Morgan County Board of Education and asked what the need was in the county.

He was told there were over 1,000 kids in the county designated as needy, and that’s not counting kids who have parents who don’t receive assistance.

“I’ve seen kids come in there in the middle of winter with no jacket, in just a t-shirt,” McBee said.

Under the Hoodie From Heaven program, it doesn’t matter what kind of car they drive up in, who the family is or what they make.

“If a kid comes in and they’re cold, and they need a hoodie, they get a hoodie,” McBee said. “We’re taking everything out of it, it’s just genuine need.”

Good, gently worn hoodies or sweatshirts can be taken to the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church office at 67 Liberty Street in Berkeley Springs during business hours, which are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

McBee said the hoodies will be taken home, washed, placed in plastic bags, a little note stating “With love, God (and your friends at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus Council 12191, 67 Liberty Street, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411)” with a QR that has a link to the parish’s website, and a quote from St. Augustine.

McBee said if anyone has any connections to a warehouse or company that has sweatshirts they want to get rid of, they can contact the church or McBee himself.

“When we ask a company, we just ask for stuff that didn’t sell,” he said.

McBee said they’re looking for all sizes – from kindergarten sizes all the way up to high school sizes.

Right now, McBee said there are 15 hoodies ready to go.

“They’re clean, they’re folded, they’re tagged, they’re bagged,” he said.

The Knights of Columbus will be giving the hoodies to the Board Office to distribute out to schools.

Each school has a designated space for pieces of clothing where a teacher can get what is needed for the student.

Any monetary donations will be used to purchase new hoodies.

“If they designated it for Hoodies From Heaven, we will make sure the hoodies are bought and they are prepared and given to the schools,” McBee said.

Hoodies and sweatshirts should only have images or messages that are school appropriate, if any.

There have already been some with NASCAR and college teams donated to the cause.

“As long as it’s not either very controversial or dirty,” McBee said about the graphics on the shirt.

McBee said he has letters out to a few sports teams, NASCAR teams, and a Harley Davidson shop, asking for shirts.

“We can only hope and pray that it comes to someone who has the compassion to do something,” McBee said.

McBee said if someone out there wanted to jump on doing something similar at their church or organization, “by all means, do it.”

“We’re more concerned about keeping kids warm than the recognition,” he said.

If anyone had any questions about how to start a campaign like this, they can contact McBee at mcbeep57@protonmail.com.