~Submitted by Margaret Donovan
The 37th annual John Dodge Coat Drive to “Help the Homeless” held on Nov. 12 was a big success – no doubt, one of the most successful.
The event was the highlight of John’s year and the family he inherited when he married Connie Donovan promised him it would continue. John Dodge cared deeply for people he spoke of as “down on their luck” and when he died in 2016, the Franciscan priest who founded St. Francis House – the largest day shelter in Boston – in the early 1980s, flew up from North Carolina to deliver his eulogy.
Bedford was very generous to St. Francis House this year. The rain cleared by noon – maybe that was because John was beaming from above as great-grandson Patrick Hartwell joined the team. Or maybe because of the couple that arrived early with a big bag of coats and wool hats the wife had knitted for the event!
Many kind-hearted residents purchase coats to donate – one couple said that the wife buys coats on sale throughout the year to drop off in November.
One man pulled up in a contractor’s truck and said he had no coats, but would money help? His $300 went straight into Marshall’s till and seven warm coats went into a bag. But it is only part of the great collection of hundreds of coats each year that help those in need because of the thoughtfulness of those who stop by to drop off one or two coats or mufflers.
John’s main coat buddy Nick Stavropoulos was sorry he couldn’t be there this year. Richard Hughes, who froze through many coat drives with John and Nick, was very grateful for the end-of-Indian-Summer weather.
There were many people who spoke of John with great fondness and said they were so happy that the event is continuing in his honor. Thanks go to Maureen and Christine for making their front yard and garage available. Coat drive organizers thank Bedford residents and wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.
Bedford TV preserved this heartwarming short clip of John at his 2013 coat drive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFLfNIsc1KY
For more information on St. Francis House or to make a financial donation: https://stfrancishouse.org/
Margaret Donovan helped John Dodge, her stepfather, for many years with planning and promoting the coat drive. She and her partner Richard Hughes live in New York City.