When Coats Are Needed, Her Higher Degree Helps

                When Cindy Jones earned a Master’s degree in Clothing and Textiles from UNC Greensboro, she never expected to be using her education quite like she’s using it today.

                “I love to shop, and I’m a good shopper,” she says.  “I know clothes.  I know good clothes.  I know brands.”

                Many of those skills can be traced back to her graduate education.

                Today, Cindy is using her education as much for the benefit of others as for herself.   For the last two years or more she has been using her degree and those talents to buy quality coats for homeless people and for others in need.  She doesn’t know exactly how many coats she has bought, but over the past summer she bought at least 100. 

                Her professors never told her to expect to use the degree like that.

                She says her activities are part of the giving spirit fostered by her church, Peace Haven Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.  “I have a certain amount of money to spend each month helping others.  I take part of what I earn from my booth at Lost in Time Antiques to buy coats,” she says.

                “My neighbor, Allen McReynolds, was the inspiration.  About two years ago he told me about the great need for men’s coats at The Shalom Project.  Allen kept saying ‘we need men’s coats, we need men’s coats,’ so I started looking to help.”

                Cindy finds most of the coats at flea markets and thrift stores.  She usually is able to find good coats for not more than five dollars, and, because she knows when thrift stores like the Salvation Army have half-price sales, she can find even more affordable deals.  She says flea markets and thrift stores are better sources because yard sales can be hit or miss.

                Her boyfriend is a folk artist who gets a lot of his ideas from items sold at flea markets, so they travel to flea markets a lot.  They drive all over the western half of North Carolina, catching flea markets like Smiley’s in Asheville, in Statesville, Hickory, Lexington, Salisbury, Archdale and Mount Airy, among others.  Last year they found several coats at flea markets while visiting in New England.

                “Shopping at flea markets works out really well.  Sometimes I will tell people that I’m buying for homeless people, and, even though many of them don’t have a lot of money, they will sell to me at a better price because they know the coat will be given to someone who needs it.  They are very supportive,” she said.

                At McReynolds’ urging, she has added men’s work shoes and boots to her shopping list for The Shalom Project.  “It’s harder to find shoes in my price range.  The work shoes I see usually cost eight, ten, twelve dollars, but now when I find some at an affordable price I buy them because Allen assures me they will be put to good use,” she says.

                There is always a great need for shoes and men’s coats in clothing closets because many men wear clothes to the thread before discarding them.  With thermometers beginning to register lower degrees, Cindy Jones’s higher degree will help protect many local homeless and needy men against the winter that is upon us. 

                    Her professors never told her to expect to use the degree like that.


About compassionatews

Think of a giant umbrella. Under that umbrella are all of the programs and acts of compassion that we see – and don’t see – around us in Winston-Salem.
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