SJASD teacher Laurel Copeland has been collecting donations of winter coats, ski pants, boots, hats, mitts and scarves for children in need for the last few years as part of United Way's Koats for Kids program.
“I don't like seeing kids cold," says the George Waters Middle School staff member.
Last year, Laurel collected seven jumbo garbage bags filled with 40 jackets and other winter gear from donors in the community. As the Koats for Kids Coordinator for her school, she also fields requests from families in need. “I would do it for anybody," she says.
If she notices a student that looks like they may need some help, she quietly pulls them aside and asks if they need any winter clothing. “I've found a few families that way," she explains.
Last year, SJASD distributed winter clothing to about 20 children through the long-standing program. With needs growing in the community, Laurel wonders if there are families that may not know how to request support.
“Basically, they can contact any school in SJASD and staff can submit an order on their behalf," she explains.
Daycares and other social service agencies in the city can also request clothing on behalf of families.
How to Donate Winter Clothing
Three schools are currently accepting donations of gently used coats, ski pants, scarves, mitts, hats and boots for Koats for Kids (Two other schools have wrapped up their collection drives for the season).
Community members are welcome to drop off these items during regular school hours. Please make sure items are clean and that zippers are in good working order.
While most people think of smaller sizes when donating items, there is also a high need for youth or adult sizes to accommodate older children. (The United Way also distributes winter coats and accessories to adults whenever possible). As well, boys' items tend to run out first and are in high demand.
How to Request Winter Clothing
If you're child needs winter clothing:
- Identify an SJASD school (your child's school or a school near you).
- Phone, email or visit the school during regular school hours.
- A staff member will collect further information from you about what type of clothing your child needs.
- Once winter items arrive, a staff member will contact you to coordinate distribution.
For more information about the United Way's Koats for Kids program, or to locate other collection sites, visit KoatsforKids.ca.