MASON CITY, Iowa – Hundreds of churches in the area were closed because of below zero temperatures Sunday, including service at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Mason City.
First Congregational UCC Pastor Chuck Kelsey said because of the cold weather, every year, the church has a mitten tree in the building to help provide clothing items to local agencies to give to those in need.
“We also make it available here if someone were to stop in and say I need some gloves or I need a hat or things we have available for them,” said Kelsey.
Jack Sutcliffe of Mason City said for more than 10 years, his family has helped make the mitten tree possible by bringing a freshly cut tree to church for people to decorate. He said it’s satisfying to know he is helping the people around him. “Everything stays here in Mason City, it’s used locally.”
Kelsey said whether it’s getting a piece of winter gear or just having a place to go, the church wants to make sure you stay warm.
“We have coffee here all the time, we do have warm rooms, we loved people to stop in if they need to get out of the weather. If there’s a situation where someone is living outside or home just isn’t warm enough, to come in and we’d figure out something to help them.”
Kelsey said this time of year can be hard, not only because of the weather but if you don’t have family to celebrate to be with on the holidays. He said the public is welcome to come in the church if they need someone to talk to.