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November 29. 2012 10:43AM

Bethany Church coat drive under way

The Bethany Covenant Church is collecting men’s winter coats for recently released prisoners, part of the church’s outreach work with Christian Aftercare Ministry.

“Christian Aftercare Ministry ministers to offenders and ex-offenders just getting out of prison,” said Debbie Corriveau, who sits on the CAM board. “It meets their physical and spiritual needs by providing clothing, spiritual counseling, maybe housing, maybe helping them get IDs, helping them find jobs.”

Though the drive is calling for jackets, they are also accepting all types of men’s clothing and monetary donations. Currently CAM is seeking kitchen tables, chairs, small bureaus, twin beds and men’s bicycles.

“Not so much in these months, but we have a great need for men’s bicycles, we give those out like crazy,” Corriveau said.

Originally located in Manchester, Bethany Covenant is part of the Evangelical Covenant Church, a global denomination founded by Swedish immigrants in 1885. Corriveau, who’s been a member of the church for 22 years, said outreach work is part of the church’s mission.

“(We are) supposed to be the hands and feet of Christ, reaching out to those in need,” she said. “And certainly these people are coming out of jail or prison with absolutely nothing, just the clothes on their backs, and they need a lot of support to keep them from reentering the system.”

Bethany Covenant is involved with various outreach initiatives, including New Life Home for Women and Children, New Horizons food pantry and shelter, Operation Christmas Child, Care Net Pregnancy Center, the Salvation Army and New England Seafarers Mission.

“I think it’s just trying to reach as many people as possible in different areas of need,” Corriveau said.

Christian Aftercare Ministries, a Manchester-based nonprofit that serves former prisoners living in Hillsborough County, was formed 15 years ago by a group of volunteers working in the prison ministry. Services include skills counseling, job development, employment services, needs based assistance and religious spiritual guidance. They also help with addiction, referrals to other services and pre-release counseling.

Donations can be dropped off until Dec. 8 at Bethany Covenant Church, 1 Covenant Way in Bedford. Doors are open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information contact Debbie or Neil Corriveau at 497-8479. To donate materials outside of the jacket drive, call Christian Aftercare Ministries at 540-8917.

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