COAT started in 2002 as a concern of local ministers, business and community leaders including Gary Lewallen (at that time chief of the Archdale Police Department.
Very few churches at that time had organized food pantries, and most of them had people coming to their door every day asking for help. It was decided to form a food pantry to which all of them could contribute. COAT was duly chartered and opened its doors in 2003. COAT is governed by a board which includes representatives from all of the participating churches plus 3 at-large members. Funding for COAT comes from churches, businesses, individual donations and occasional grants.
Unlike many food pantries which only supply a week’s worth of food, COAT tries to meet people’s needs for a month at a time. Many families receive an entire buggy full of food. Some are unemployed or live in very difficult circumstances. Some families have many children at home, others have only one parent. As times have changed, older people on fixed incomes have also turned to COAT for help. In emergencies or in difficult times like the COVID epidemic, COAT has been flexible with people who come with little or no documentation – COAT’s ministry is to help where it’s needed.
Many of the people who come to COAT feel ashamed or depressed because they are asking for help. The staff and volunteers do their best to help put them at ease and listen to their problems. Although COAT mainly serves people’s physical needs, they recognize that people have spiritual needs as well. COAT staff will offer to pray with people, and they often hand out Bibles and encourage people to start attending a local church.
For many years, Springfield has kept a large barrel in our front lobby where donations of food can be dropped off. Starting in 2015, we took up a regular collection on the first Sunday of every month, which has greatly increased our donations.
In 2007, COAT began one of its other signature programs, providing backpacks of food for children in grades K-12. These kids receive meals at school during the week, but on Friday and during vacations many go home with nothing to eat. COAT currently provides food backpacks to 10 schools in the area, including the Allen Jay School.
COAT’s director is Rita Walker. She is a member of Springfield Friends Meeting. Her son, Chad Hinshaw, is also on the staff of COAT. Gary Lewallen is on the board.
YOU CAN HELP!
Donate food: Springfield collects food on the first Sunday of each month. The barrel is in the vestibule of our church.
Donate money: so COAT workers can buy food from the wholesaler
Location: 10607 North Main Street, Archdale, NC, at the corner of North Main Street and Frazier.
Food assistance: Monday-Friday 9:00-11:00
Special Saturday holiday hours: 11:00-2:00 through December 17th
Thrift store: Monday-Friday 11:00-2:00
Phone: (336) 431-3663