It's not something I talk about a whole lot because it's not something that generally comes up in everyday conversation, but I've been there. I know what it's like to stand in line at the food pantry. I know what it's like to wonder if there will be enough money to buy a winter coat that fits. I know what it's like to not be able to turn up the heat and for the house to be so cold that you can see your breath.

Unfortunate circumstances led my family down the path of poverty when I was a kid, but we were able to get out thanks to helping hands and we've spent the years since offering a hand to others so that they can get out, too.

It might seem like a completely trivial thing, but do you realize the profound impact that a good coat for winter can have on a person who has been so beaten down by life? I remember one winter when my mom didn't have a warm enough coat and a lady noticed how cold my mom was, took her coat off and put it on my mom's shoulders. To this day, mom weeps when she tells the story. That act of selflessness gave my mom so much confidence and reinforced to her that she had value in life.

If you'd like to help some local people who are down on their luck and would like to do your part to remind them of the value they have in life, I'd encourage you to dig through your closets because the YMCA of Broome County will be collecting winter coats (as well as hats, gloves, scarves, and boots) and then will hand them out to people in the Southern Tier who need the gift of warmth.

Gently used coats (along with hats, gloves, scarves, and boots) will be collected at the YMCA in Binghamton and at the West Family YMCA in Johnson City from October 11 through November 9, so this should give you plenty of time to go through your things. If you've got any questions about when you can drop your things off or how else you can help, please call 607-770-9622. If you're someone who needs a little help, the free giveaway of these items will be held on November 10 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the West Family YMCA in Johnson City.

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