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Nick’s NEW coat drive honors fallen soldier

October 19, 2012

Covered by new coats, Connie Potter and Stephania Taylor sort through coats purchased at Kohls in Fort Wayne and those donated by Berne Apparel Company to match individuals with the proper size as part of the Nick's NEW Coat Project. (Photo provided)

    Members of the congregation at First Missionary Church in Berne have launched a Nick’s NEW Coat Project in honor of Nick Taylor, the South Adams graduate who was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan earlier this year as a member of the Indiana National Guard.
    The project grew out of a story, told during the soldier's funeral, in which a young Nick Taylor chose to give a fellow student in need his new coat (see related story).
    The Nick's NEW Coat committee — Stephania Taylor, Rhea Yoder, Ron Dull, and Joe and Kandi Stutzman — met recently and worked through some decisions that came about from the response to "Nick's NEW Coat" project.
    Several names of people needing new coats have already been given to the committee, and members are meeting those needs with an appropriately-sized coat. More coats will be purchased to have on hand as committee members become aware of other needs as the weather gets colder and teachers and those in local social services agencies become aware.
    Labels "In Memory of Nick Taylor" have been donated by LaDonna Habegger of Sport Forms. Women who are part of sewing groups at Engine House Quilt Shop in Berne have sewed the labels on.
    Kohl's department store at Northcrest Shopping Plaza in Fort Wayne has provided a "substantial charitable discount" for coats purchased there, project organizers said in a press release. Berne Apparel Company also has donated several coats.
    The coats were originally intended primarily for children and teens. Due to the overwhelming response, however, the Taylors have insisted that coats go to whomever needs them — babies, children, teens, adults, Berne and Adams County residents, as well as those from neighboring areas, and the Amish community.
    Residents who know of someone who needs a coat, or who are in need of a coat themselves, are asked to contact First Missionary Church, South Adams Schools, Compassionate Ministries, Agape Respite Care, The Hope Clinic, the Boy & Girls Club or Connie Potter, 525-8516.
    Donations of new coats (used coats are not being accepted) may be dropped off any time during office hours at First Missionary Church, located on U.S. 27 South in Berne. Checks may be mailed to the church at P.O. Box 364, Berne, IN 46711.

    Pastor Max Haines of the First Missionary Church in Berne told the following story during Nick Taylor's funeral:
    When Nick was a growing grade-school boy, his parents bought him a nice new red coat in addition to his “everyday” blue coat. About that same time, Nick saw a friend who was wearing a coat with holes in it. Nick made some comments to his friend about the holey coat which embarrassed his mother, Stephania.
    She suggested Nick give his blue coat to the other boy. Nick said, “No!” which made Stephania disgusted as well as embarrassed. She repeated the suggestion and got the same response from Nick. She pulled Nick by the arm to the other room to “teach that boy a lesson” about generosity.
    Nick had to raise his voice to be heard by his aggravated mother to say, “I don’t want to give him my BLUE coat, I want to give him my new RED coat!” 
    Rather than Stephania teaching Nick a lesson, she learned the true meaning of sacrificial giving.

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