Donate new or gently used coats through December 7th

Each year in November and December Tonja Jones holds a coat drive to benefit the Everett Gospel Men’s Mission, in honor of her nephew Derrick Everson who was murdered on August 20, 2009.

Derrick had a hard beginning in life. He bounced in and out of foster homes until the age of 3 when he went to live with his grandma and his Aunt Tonja. Derrick also struggled with mental illness for most of his life.  Tonja remembers Derrick fondly, “Derrick was a good kid he had a laugh that even if you were mad at him, he would laugh, and you could not help but laugh with him. Derrick had a really handsome face and long eyelashes. He used to tell us that he could be a model and I believe that he could have been. Derrick was honest, sometimes even when he shouldn’t be. I remember when he first came to live with us he used to always call me Aunt Tonna. I really miss hearing that.”

On Aug 20 2009 Tonja was home watching the 11 o’clock news and heard a report that they found the body of a 21 year old man off of north Broadway in Everett. “My gut just sunk and I had a feeling that it was Derrick.”  Later police confirmed her suspicions.  From stories they were told and from court documents they found out that Derrick was hanging out with a couple of friends in the woods.  They were walking out of the trail and David Kopp got spooked and thought someone was following him so he hid. When Derrick walked by David jumped out and stabbed Derrick 25 times. When asked by the police later that morning why he stabbed Derrick so many times (when he knew that the first one was a mistake), David’s reply was “To get rid of his pain and to get rid of one more mouth to conspire against me”.  David ended up pleading guilty and he received a 20 year sentence.

Tonja says, “I have no doubt that Derrick is in heaven and I am ok he is there. He has no one making fun of him anymore; he is not struggling with the voices in his head. He always told us he had a special connection with God that we would never understand. I still struggle on how he got there but not where he is at.”

When Tonja first met with her advocate at Families & Friends, she suggested finding a way to honor Derrick on his upcoming birthday.  That’s when Tonja thought of donating coats to the Everett Gospel Men’s Mission.  “I knew Derrick had spent time on the street and had gone into the shelter once. My thought was wow what if one of the coats that get donated goes to someone that Derrick knows. The thought just warmed my heart. The first year I had donated a lot of the jackets, sweat shirts and sweats that I could find around the house and a couple of my friends donated some as well.  I brought them in and told the guys at the desk why I was donating these. They asked me if I wanted a tax receipt and I declined because it was in honor of Derrick not to get a tax credit. That is what started the coat drive.”

The last day to donate is December 7th, so that Tonja can get the coats washed and ready to be delivered to the shelter on December 10th.

Any and all Jackets, Coats, Sweats, Sweatshirts are welcome.  Donations can be dropped off at the Families & Friends Everett Office at 3807 Colby Ave.