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Helpers Among Us: Winter coats for those in need

Project Paulie gets coats to women and children in abuse shelters and to those in refugee organizations. COURTESY PHOTO/NICKY BANDERA

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Donors of winter coats might never know if they get to somebody who can really use them, but Carolyn Nolan has a better idea. She works with Project Paulie, an organization started by a friend, and they have specific people in mind for the donations. 

Winchester resident Carolyn Nolan has been helping out with Project Paulie. COURTESY PHOTO/CAROLYN NOLAN

Project Paulie gets coats to women and children in abuse shelters and to those in refugee organizations, for instance. According to Quincy resident Nicky Bandera, who started the project, “It’s not just about dropping off a bag of coats, it’s making sure they go to people who really need them.”

Nolan says that during the pandemic, her friend started making lasagna for people in need, and realizing that wasn’t personably sustainable, decided to expand the project into specific areas and her winter coat collection was born.

“Nicky reached out to me,” says Nolan. “She was looking for places where folks could drop coats off on porches.” 

Originally Bandera wanted them to go to Nolan’s place of business (The Nolan Group on Mt. Vernon Street), but Nolan said her Everett Avenue home would be better. 

Project Paulie's winter hats with a tomato logo (for the start with the lasagna donations), in different colors for different non-profits. COURTESY PHOTO/NICKY BANDERA

“On Jan. 24, we started collecting by way of Everything is free on Facebook and within three weeks, we had 75 coats. Nicky said, ‘You guys killed it!’” 

And Nolan also started hosting tea parties with for friends and business associates. The teas include Scones by Isobel and to support various non-profits. 

Next up is going to be the “shoes cruise,” says Nolan. In this case, they’re looking for new shoes, or money to buy new shoes because many people in need have foot problems from being out in the cold and wet weather. 

Project Paulie hats are available for purchase at COURTESY PHOTO/NICKY BANDERA

As part of Project Paulie, Bandera designed winter hats with a tomato logo (for the start with the lasagna donations), different colors for different non-profits. 

“Winchester was the number 1 location for the coat drive,” she says. “And Carolyn was the first person to support out food drive.”

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