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‘Coats for Christmas’ project extended through Dec. 29

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–More than 40,000 coats were collected during the first wave of a Southern Baptist effort to help North Korean children survive a harsh winter. Complications in shipping the coats, however, have extended the opportunity to show God’s love for people in the reclusive socialist country.
Leaders at the Southern Baptist International Mission Board in Richmond, Va., have asked churches to continue collecting coats through Dec. 29 so the agency can honor a North Korean request for 180,000 heavy coats to protect children from that country’s bitter winter weather.
Three years of famine in North Korea have nearly doubled death rates among children under 5, international aid workers report. Thousands of children whose homes were destroyed by floods earlier this year are left without adequate protection from winter temperatures that can reach as low as 4 below zero. North Korean officials, fearing children in several provinces will die this winter, asked Southern Baptists to collect the 180,000 coats.
International Mission Board leaders notified churches of the need for coats in late November. Volunteers in Richmond worked Dec. 13-18 to prepare 40,058 coats sent by churches across the country. Difficulties in arranging for a cargo plane to carry the coats to North Korea, however, delayed the departure of the shipment until Jan. 12, giving churches more time to respond to the need.
Churches are being asked to receive additional coats through Dec. 29 and immediately send the coats to temporary centers being set up around the country, said Bill Cashion, the IMB’s consultant on human needs ministries.
“On very short notice, Southern Baptists sent over 40,000 coats for the children of North Korea. We are extremely grateful for this response,” said Cashion. “But now God has given us an opportunity to collect the 180,000 coats that were requested. I believe he has chosen us to be channels of his love during this time of crisis.”
Information about the project and collection sites is available through a toll-free hotline — 1-800-999-3113 (menu item 1) — and at the IMB’s Internet web site, http://www.imb.org.
The “Coats for Christmas” drive is jointly sponsored by the International Mission Board, the North America Mission Board and Woman’s Missionary Union.