Passing out warmth

Beacon to hold coat giveaway Saturday afternoon

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Chad Gilstrap, store manager for the Beacon of Hope Second Chance Store, looks over some of the coats they will be giving away on Oct. 13.

It’s getting colder, fall is here, and winter is sure to arrive soon.

Not everyone is prepared for that. Some may not have a coat to wear.

The Beacon of Hope is going to help ensure that anyone who needs one will have one.

From noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday, they will be giving away coats at their Community Area, located at 1105 First Ave. S., next to the the Beacon of Hope Second Chance Store.

Store manager Chad Gilstrap isn’t exactly sure how many are on hand.

“There’s at least two or three hundred here,” he said surveying a large pile of them. “We have five or six hundred upstairs at the shelter. There’s more than enough for Fort Dodge.”

Steve Roe, executive director of the Beacon, said that there are simply more donated coats than they can sell in the store. The Beacon also provides their residents with a coat.

“The guys always get coats,” he said. “There’s an abundance.”

Gilstrap said there’s only one requirement.

“You have to be here in person,” he said.

While the giveaway is going to start at noon, the 4 p.m. ending time is flexible.

“We’ll go for as long as it lasts,” he said. “We just wanted to have a day before it gets cold where people can pick out a coat.”

Roe is proud of Gilstrap and the effort to donate the coats. He said he’s one of the Beacon’s many success stories.

Gilstrap said he came to the Beacon after being kicked out of a treatment center.

“They told me to go to the Beacon,” he said. “I was looking to get drunk or high and I ran into a lady I’d never met. She said God told her not to give me anything.”

That was in January. Gilstrap has been clean since.

“I was looking for a different way to stay clean,” he said.

He started as a volunteer at the store. He was hired part-time, and several months ago became the store manager.

He’s since been able to reconnect with his family.

“The stuff I didn’t care about then is all I care about now,” he said.