A Hampton high school senior has made it his mission to provide coats for the homeless each year. This winter, he collected over 1,800. 

Andrew Sutherland, a member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, got an early start in social ministry. His parents and other church members provided sandwiches for the homeless, passing out food to passers-by in Phoebus. One winter day, a man stopped for a sandwich and asked if there were any coats. Andrew was 7, and wanted to buy the man a coat. When his mother told him they couldn’t buy coats for everyone, he came up with another idea. His coat drive started that day. 

As active church members, Andrew’s family began collecting coats for the homeless by asking their neighbors at Gloria Dei. Soon, the drive grew to include donations from his school and the general public thanks to a “drive by and drop off” station, held in the church parking lot on weekends. Andrew’s mother, Jennifer, explained the process: 

“As Andrew’s understanding of the needs of the homeless has grown, so has his drive. We get donations of toiletries and other clothing items now, and he hopes to add a clothing closet in the future so that people in search of work can find what they need to wear for job interviews.” 

Since he started collecting coats almost 10 years ago, Andrew has brought his donations to HELP, Inc. in Hampton. HELP is a nonprofit organization founded in 1982 to provide shelter, healthcare, and support services to Hampton and Newport News residents. The HELP winter shelter program, “A Night’s Welcome”, is supported by dozens of area churches and businesses and operates annually from mid-November through March. The nonprofit has distributed coats and supplies to homeless clients through the shelter as well as their Day Center at 429 Buckroe Avenue and the HELP Medical and Dental Clinic at 1320 Lasalle Avenue. 

Andrew, now a senior at Hampton Christian School, has plans to attend college next year– but his mission will continue. His parents plan to keep the program going with community support. 

For more information on ways to help the homeless, please visit helphampton.org/waystohelp