In advance of storm, Greenfield Police Department distributes coats to people in need

  • Greenfield Police Officer Laura Gordon drove to Springfield to pick up coats for distribution in Greenfield. Contributed photo/Bob Charland

  • Greenfield Police Officer Laura Gordon drove to Springfield to pick up coats for distribution in Greenfield. Contributed photo/Bob Charland

Staff Writer
Published: 1/28/2022 4:27:20 PM
Modified: 1/28/2022 4:26:02 PM

GREENFIELD — Nearly 100 coats were distributed to individuals in need on Thursday, thanks to a partnership between the Greenfield Police Department and the nonprofit Pedal Thru Youth.

According to Deputy Chief William Gordon, the coats were distributed throughout the day by his wife, Officer Laura Gordon, after picking them up from Springfield early that morning.

“Officer Gordon is one of our two community resource officers,” said the deputy chief. “They’re out in the parks, checking on people without shelter throughout the winter. We typically distribute these items hand-to-hand, while we’re talking to them and having conversations and developing a relationship with our at-need population.”

Gordon said the department has worked with Bob Charland, founder of Pedal Thru Youth, for the last several years. Although the nonprofit is primarily an organization that provides bicycles to children who don’t have them, Charland also puts together backpacks every winter with supplies for at-risk populations. Those backpacks are distributed to law enforcement agencies who distribute them to their communities.

“This year, he got a larger shipment of coats, so he’s distributing them to schools in the Hampden County area, but he knew we had this area of need,” Gordon said of Charland. “He called Laura up on Thursday morning, and she dropped everything and went (to Springfield).”

Charland, who works with Mass Military Support to get supplies to donate, said the coats given to the Greenfield Police Department were among the nearly 2,000 coats he anticipated giving out by the end of this week. Since Thursday morning when he reached out to the Gordons, Charland has donated coats to schools in Springfield, Holyoke and Chicopee.

On Friday afternoon, he was en route to West Springfield Public Schools. Charland said he wanted to get the schools as many coats as he could before the snowstorm that was expected to hit the region on Saturday. Hand warmers were also distributed.

“As soon as the truck started coming in, I started reaching out to all the departments,” Charland said.

He said after years of working with the Gordons, he always thinks of them when he has donations for distribution.

“Laura and her husband, they’re absolutely fantastic people and amazing officers,” Charland said. “They’re a huge asset to the community and truly show the positive side of law enforcement.”

Acknowledging all the social service agencies available to the community, Gordon said the Police Department is one of few that interacts with the homeless population 24 hours per day, year-round.

“The population of people without shelter and the Police Department have established a long history of having a relationship,” he said, noting the department works to connect individuals with the resources they need. “We care for them as much as we care for anyone in the city.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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