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In this Monday, Jan. 30, 2017, a migrant sews a blanket, at a tiny coat workshop charity called Naomi in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, which is working long hours to collect and wash discarded blankets and turn them into wearable coats. The blankets are mostly army issue gray with red stitching and are distributed as aid at the sprawling refugee and migrant encampments, and are being recycled into practical coats for the vulnerable refugees who are facing a harsh winter. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

A charity in Greece is turning old blankets into winter coats for refugees


Volunteers in Greece are working long hours to turn old blankets into winter coats for the thousands of refugees living in tents in old factories and warehouses this winter. 

The blankets, which are mostly army issued with gray and red stitching, came from a now-closed refugee camp at Idomeni, which was located along the Macedonian border. 

In May, when Greek police shut down the camp where as many as 14,000 people lived, hundreds of tents and thousands of blankets were left behind. 

The Greek-German charity Naomi collected thousands of blankets last year in order to wash and repurpose them.  

Project organizer Elke Wollschlaeger and other volunteers gather in a tiny workshop in the city of Thessaloniki to produce the coats.

Each of the coats has a label that says "Remember Idomeni" stitched inside. 

"We're trying to keep it in people's minds what happened in Idomeni last year, and what Europe did to refugees and the Greek people, just leaving the borders closed and thousands of people stranded," Wollschlaeger said. 

Naomi doesn't distribute the coats directly to the refugees, but rather passes them to aid groups in return for donations. The charity then uses those donations for skills-training programs for refugees. The idea is for those skills to help them get on their feet and help them obtain apartments. 

Greece's government says an estimated 60,000 refugees and migrants are stuck in the country because of border closures in other parts of Europe. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

A charity in Greece is turning old blankets into winter coats for refugees

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