NEWTOWN >> With the weather getting colder and winter fast approaching, Aurelia “Lola” Loffreda-Mancinelli wanted to wrap the homeless in warmth and love.
So the Saint Andrew School eighth grader organized a coat drive which she called, “Lola’s Coats That Count.” She set up a box at her school, created fliers, advertised in the school’s newsletter and in the parish bulletin.
“I’m lucky I can go in my closet and grab a coat, but many people out there don’t have that luxury,” said Lola. “So they end up going without a coat and being cold. There are little kids walking to school and they don’t even have a warm coat.”
When Saint Andrews School President Nancy Matteo learned about Lola’s idea, she was more than happy to provide a venue for the collection.
“When Lola contacted me and asked if Saint Andrew Catholic School would like to participate, I jumped at the opportunity,” said Matteo. “When I was home during the pandemic, I cleaned all of our closets. I donated 30 boxes of items to charity.
“I thought that many other families were in the same position,” continued Matteo. “I know how quickly children outgrow coats. Sometimes they’re barely worn, and by the next season, the outerwear no longer fits,” she said.
“When Lola said that the coats could be gently used, I knew that she would receive many donations,” said Matteo.
And she was right. When the call went out, the coats came pouring in to the school’s collection box.
“As always, I am humbled by the generosity of our families. When they see a need, they always contribute overwhelmingly,” said Matteo. “The kindness is breathtaking!”
Thanks to the outpouring from the school and the Newtown community, Lola collected 168 new and slightly used coats which she delivered to A Woman’s Place and the Bucks County Homeless Shelter.
Lola said she was happy, but not surprised by the overwhelming response.
“Most of them came from Saint Andrew school, my school, and it actually is not a surprise because my school is so generous,” said Lola. “The families are always so happy when charities come up that they want to donate and help those who are less fortunate.
“I also felt really good that several of my neighbors donated, too,” added Lola. “I had a neighbor who donated tons of hangers, which was great because we had the coats hanging all over my house so it was nice to be able to deliver them on hangers so that they could be hung for people to choose from.”
As far as the recipients of her generosity, Lola said she hopes “it makes them feel like someone is thinking about them.
“I am thinking about them wishing and hoping the best for them that they can feel proud of who they are and know that people are thinking about them,” she said.
“Of course I want them to be warm, but it also would be a good feeling to feel like someone out there is thinking about you even if you are a stranger. At that moment, maybe they won’t feel too sad or lonely.”
Lola said the collection drive has taught her an important lesson – that one person can make a difference.
“I was able to help 168 people with some coats,” she said. “If everyone of us did one charitable thing and affected a few lives, then that’s affecting a lot of lives. Some people help with money, some people help with food, some people help with their time. Anything that is charitable and shows you care about someone else can make someone feel good. I’m so glad I could do something to help.”
Looking ahead, “Lola’s Coats That Count” is just the beginning for this energetic and very caring eighth grader.
“I want to continue doing charitable things all year,” said Lola. “People need our help the whole year through and so I want to keep doing these charitable efforts to continue helping people. Also, I appreciate all the people who helped me like my family and Saint Andrews School and my neighbors who all donated their time and efforts too.”