Coats For Kids — Gay Man Pays It Forward

coats for kidsPeter Cipriano; Photo: Cipriano's FB Page

North Shore Gay Man Donates Thousands of Coats to Local Organizations This Holiday Season, Gives Back To Others Too

By: Audrey Cole/Reporter—

For years, Lynn, Mass. resident Peter Cipriano has collected items for those in need, selflessly giving of himself and his time to those who need it most. This Holiday Season is no different, as he currently has raked in more than a thousand coats to benefit local Massachusetts communities—all while relying on the generosity of strangers, even during a pandemic.

This year, Cipriano has shattered his own record.

Collaborating with Coats for Kids and an extended partner’s network of local businesses and organizations, Cipriano has become a point person to make it all happen after a friend reached out for his assistance in Lynn. He has been unstoppable ever since.

Inspired by his husband’s own legacy of charitable and volunteer giving, Cipriano shares why it is critical that others give too and how it falls upon us all to change our communities through generosity and kindness.

“… I am proud of what he does and extra proud that he serves the community this way,” Coco Alinsug said of his husband’s charitable commitment. I am a lucky guy to be married to somebody with a golden heart.”

Trying to highlight some of the goodness of the Holiday Season, The Rainbow Times interviewed Cipriano to find out more about what he’s doing to bring kindness to others this time of the year.

TRT: Each year you do a coat drive. You’ve posted on social media that people can drop them at your home and this year. You collected over 1,000 coats for those in need. Who receives this generous donation and how long have you been doing it?

PC: The coats go to Anton’s Cleaners where they are cleaned for free. Coats donated to Coats for Kids go directly to the local communities collecting the coats. Once collected and cleaned, coats are distributed free of charge through the Coats for Kids Distribution Partners Network, made up of local nonprofits, schools, and social service agencies in New England. I have been collecting coats for the past 5 years.

coats for kids

Coco and Peter, the husband-and-husband team do much volunteer work for kids, youth and others in the area and beyond; Photo: Cipriano’s FB Page

Q: Is this something you do on your own every year or is it a part of a larger organization?

A: My friend, Sandi Watkins who owns I Did It Myself Framing got me involved in collecting. I would post on social media that she was collecting winter coats and the donations would start pouring in. She was the drop-off point in Lynn and a few years ago she moved away and asked me if I could continue her work and be the drop-off location. Sandi would collect the winter coats for the Shoe City Lions/Wyoma Square Lions Clubs who sort through the coats to make sure they are usable and then drop [them] off at the Lynnfield Anton’s Cleaners where they clean them for free and distribute to local organizations.

Q: Why do you put your energy into gathering coats and who benefits from this charitable work? What inspired you to do it?

A: I feel if we all put a little bit of energy into helping our communities we could really make a difference. When we all do better, we all do better! Anyone in need of a warm winter coat benefits from this drive. My husband, Coco, has always been my inspiration for community service.

Q: Do you think it is important to give during the Holiday Season especially, year-round, or both?

A: This year’s coat drive is from Sept. 28, 2020-Jan. 20, 2021, but I collect all year round and store the coats in my basement since Anton’s does not start accepting [coats] until the actual drive starts for that year. Collection all year round makes a huge difference. It has literally doubled the number of coats I have been able to collect.

Q: Is it rewarding to do this type of volunteer work?

A: Volunteer work is very rewarding. It connects us to our community by improving it and making [it] a better place for us all to live in.

Q: When did you first start doing this coat drive?

A: I started collecting coats about 5 years ago.

Q: Are there other charities that you also support by volunteering your time?

A: A couple of other items I collect and could use your help with are:

  1. Soda/beer can tabs. These get donated to Shriner’s Burn Hospital in Boston. [People have] donated 25 lbs. so far this year.
  2. Children’s books. [People have] donated 1000s of books so far this year.

I am [also] on the Board of Directors of the Citizens Advisory Board in Lynn and on the Board of Directors of the Lynn Community Association that put on events such as community clean-ups, [and] MLK Day, which is a day of bringing the community together for a day of volunteering and candidate forums.

Q: During a time like we are experiencing with the pandemic, have you found it more or less challenging to collect the coats this year?

A: Collecting [the] coats has been easy. For those that need me to [do a] pick up, I ask them to leave the coats in a bag on their porch late Friday night and I will pick them up early Saturday morning. For those that drop [them] off to me, [they] are able to drop them off on my porch any day or time. The challenging part is that during the pandemic folks are going to need our help more than ever.

To get involved with Coats For Kids and assist with Cipriano’s coat collection efforts, find out more at All Anton’s Cleaners, Enterprise Bank, and Jordan’s Furniture locations are collecting coats now through Jan. 20, 2021, according to Anton’s website. Connect with Cipriano online on Facebook to participate in his other charitable collections and contributions.

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