‘Tis the season of giving and helping our fellow neighbors.

Many people left the St. Paul Center with bright smiles and warm hugs Tuesday afternoon. The first Saturday of every December, the Community Outreach Group of Erie holds its annual clothing distribution party at the center.

With a line pouring out the front doors of the church, Santa and his special helpers distributed free clothing for all ages and children’s toys with snacks and refreshments.

Tim Nowakowski, president of the Community Outreach Group, gave credit to their founders and reminisced about how far this event has come over the years.

“Our very first giveaway was in 1999. A group of guys that had done a retreat together called Craceo. They wanted to do something to help the folks in the community so they kicked around a few ideas,” said Tim Nowakowski, president, Community Outreach Group.

The Community Outreach Group starts collecting clothing in the spring of every year. They get donations from church and state sales while volunteers donate the rest. At the end of the event, the remaining items will be bagged up and contributed to the Erie City Mission.

This is the first time since 2019 this event has taken place, and young volunteers are eager to give back to the community.

“That’s like the best part. Seeing how happy the people are,” said Amelia, volunteer.

“Definitely seeing how happy the little kids get over a coat,” said Dakotah, volunteer

“Our co-founder says it best. We can’t fathom enjoying our Christmas season until we’ve helped our neighbors in need. We’re created out of love, we’re created for love, we’re here to take care of each other, and that’s all that we’re doing here today,” said Nowakowski.