By Chris Bavender
From 400 coats given away its first year, to close to 4,000 expected to be handed out this year – its nineth – Hamilton County Coats for Kids ensures every child who needs a warm winter coat can get one.
According to the Good Samaritan Network, 18,000 people in Hamilton County live below the poverty level. Half of those are children.
“People don’t think of that for Hamilton County,” said Linda Withrow, one of the co-founders of Coats for Kids. “In the southern part of the county you have the working poor. They have two jobs and work really hard but in the end the paycheck is not quite enough for luxuries like a new winter coat. That is what we see a lot of.”
This year’s event is 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at Carmel United Methodist Church, 621 S. Range Line Rd.
“So far we have about 1,500 coats but that is not unusual at this time and we expect to get another 1,500 this last week,” Withrow said. “This year we are really focusing on looking at what coats we have and signing people up in advance so we get an idea of needs in sizes, etc. We may have to supplement with some money we have from grants.”
A wide range of sizes will be available.
“Kids come in all sizes, from brand new babies to high school students who play football who need a 3X-size jacket winter coat,” Withrow said. “We also try to give coats to the entire family, not just the kids.”
Recipients don’t have to live in Hamilton County. While pre-registration has closed, coats will be available after 11 a.m. for those without appointments, according to Withrow.
It takes about 400 volunteers to man the event.
“We have a lot of people who will stay all day, including some who are clients who will come and work and then go get a coat because they find it’s just a great way to give back,” Withrow said. “Plenty of people also bring the coats back that they received last year. I like to refer to it as a giant freecycle. If it’s still in good condition they wash it and donate it back.”
Other winter items such as mittens, snow pants, boots and scarves are also needed. All items can be donated at any sponsor church: Carmel United Methodist Church, Grace Community Church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church, Aroma United Methodist Church and St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.
For more information, visit http://kidscoats.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 324-8818.