Waterbury non-profit collecting coats for Hurricane Maria victims here from Puerto Rico

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — They call it the “Share the Warmth” program at the Acts 4 Ministry non-profit on Thomaston Avenue in Waterbury.

It means everything for people who fled Puerto Rico because of the destruction of Hurricane Maria and are now living in Waterbury — people like Jassmely Torres.

“For people who came here with nothing, come over here and see that they provide things for you — things that you need — with the love that they do, it’s priceless,” Torres said.

Acts 4 Ministry has been giving away free winter coats donated by the community to the city’s poor every year since 2004. This year, they’re also helping families from Puerto Rico who arrived in The Brass City with nothing but the shirts on their backs.

“When I came here I didn’t even have a sweater,” Torres said. “I was in a shirt and they said you need a sweater, you need a coat and they provided me with clothes.”

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And those coats and clothes provide a lot more than warmth for those folks trying to rebuild their lives after surviving such a difficult ordeal.

“It’s priceless — makes you keep on going, you know?” Torres said.

Torres’ 22 year-old daughter says it hasn’t been easy.

“It’s been really hard,” said Vivian Torres. “A lot of changes and a lot of having to make our way through difficult times and things.”

But, she says she feels better seeing the generosity of people who donate coats and clothes to help keep them warm and the care and concern displayed by the folks at Acts 4 Ministry.

“I thank God for this place,” Vivian said.

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In fact, the kindness displayed at Acts 4 Ministry makes Vivan feel happy for another reason — because it puts a smile on her mother’s face.

“It feels really good to see her happy,” she said.

The executive director says it feels good to help. However, because there are more people to help this year, they worry there might not be enough winter coats to meet demand. They say they need more — especially coats for boys and men. If you’d like to donate, you can do so at Acts 4 Ministry during normal business hours. It’s located at 1713 Thomaston Avenue in Waterbury. Their website is acts4.org. They also have a Facebook page with more information. You can find that at www.facebook.com/acts4ministry.

They also collect clothes all year round and help more than 6,000 people.

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