Wesley Matthews continues his work in providing coats for kids


The weather in Portland is changing. More drizzling rain and lower temperatures, and now it seems like a good time to dig through the back of the closet for that warm winter coat.

So right on cue on Sunday afternoon, with the chicken-soup weather as the perfect backdrop, Trail Blazers shooting guard Wesley Matthews hosted his annual coat drive and shopping spree benefitting children from the Police Activities League (PAL).

“Let’s get some coats and have some fun,” Matthews announced to the 20 PAL kids after arriving at the Johnson Creek Fred Meyer location on SE 82nd Ave.

For three years now, Matthews has donated his time, and credit card, to fulfilling a need for underprivileged children during winters in Portland – the simple essential in staying warm.

So, Matthews hosts a coat drive through Fred Meyer, a favorite corporate partner to the Blazers’ organization. From Nov. 2 through Nov. 18, shoppers can donate “new or gently used coats” at any area Fred Meyer location.

In addition to the community coat drive, Matthews has personally helped a handful of PAL program kids shop for coats and clothing.

According to Patricia TenEyck, the PAL Executive Director of Greater Portland, more than 95 percent of the children in the program receive free or reduced lunches at school, meaning they come from low-income families. In many cases, TenEyck said the children would not have a new coat without Matthews’ generosity. Although in previous years, 10 PAL kids had taken part in the shopping spree, Matthews doubled that number of invitees on Sunday.

“I wanted to do something different,” Matthews said, explaining why he chose this particular philanthropic route. “With the opportunity that I have as a basketball player, as a role model.”
Matthews then added: “It’s rainy here in Portland. I got to keep people dry.”

When he first walked through the sliding doors, Matthews offered a few words before instructing the children to pick out one coat for themselves, as well as another to give to a friend or family member in need. After filling Fred Meyer carts with a variety of coats, Matthews then surprised the shoppers by allowing them to pick out two personal Blazer clothing items. Even the young adult PAL workers and guardians got to pick out new gear on Matthews’ dime.

After a little over an hour, kids toted oversized plastic bags. Many of the boys asked Matthews to break in their red and black gear with his autograph and immediately donned their new souvenirs/clothes.

The shopping bill totaled more than $4,100, which Matthews himself did not know nor care to boast about. His Sunday mission focused on one lesson – pay it forward.

“The first thing I want them to do is do something good for somebody else,” Matthew said. “I want them to have that gratification and that understanding and hopefully develop a habit to do something good.”

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