Coats for Kids

Every year, my local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police has a fund raiser to collect money to buy a wardrobe for a disadvantaged child just before school starts. The cost to outfit one child for the school year is $200. This year, I gave my usual amount but then a couple of weeks later, I realized that the increase in gas prices disproportionately affects the families most likely to need this assistance. So, I increased my annual donation. They just called me back which is why I thought to mention this to you. It is important to do it now as their shopping is done on the tax holiday.

I know that times are tough right now but I beseech you to extend your generosity in whatever way possible. You can look up the local chapter of the FOP in the phone book and see if they have a similar program. If not, another option is to donate to Coats for Kids. This has been a favorite charity of mine for years. Unfortunately, 25 cases of coats intended for kids in Virginia and Illinois were recently stolen. The loss amounts to $10,000.

I do not blame you if you feel this responsibility should be borne by the parents of these kids but most of these kids live in foster care. Already disadvantaged, they’re usually relegated with overly worn cast-offs. There are no decent kid’s coats at used clothing stores. Kid’s coats are usually passed down to others. It’s hard to do well in school if the other kids make fun of you because your jacket zipper is broken and the snow is a foot deep or the sleeves are torn. They stick out enough as it is.

If you can’t afford to donate money, donate skills. Every year, after the first cold hit, I’d go to my son’s school and inventory the kids jackets in his class. Then I’d come back with my sewing machine, a lot of thread, zippers, elastics and what have you. I repaired the coats in the hallway outside the classroom door. These kids only have one coat so it wasn’t possible to take them and bring them back later. Perhaps you and your friends can do something like this. If you don’t have school age kids or know where to start, I suggest contacting the Special Education teacher at your local elementary school. It’s the kids in special ed who tend to be the most economically disadvantaged. They also stick out; everyone sees who gets off the short bus.


If you make a donation, kindly send me a copy of your receipt if you’d like to take advantage of my unpublicized program to generously reward Coats for Kids supporters.

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7 comments

  1. Iesha Speaks says:

    Thank you for bringing this cause to our attention. I don’t have much a lot of money right now but I can sew. I hope people understand how truly important a coat can be to a child. After my dad left (more like completely deserted) us, my mom and I went through a pretty difficult time. One of things that I remember is having an “ugly” coat which was coming apart. I remember kids making fun of me because their coats were so much nicer than mine. Once, while walking in public I fell and twisted my ankle because some people were passing by and I was attempting to hide quickly because I did not want them to see my coat. Fortunately my grandmother who was walking with us saw how ashamed I was, and brought me a coat. I felt like a star went I went back to school! For those who do not have a grandmother to step in and help, I hope that I can be of some help.

  2. Josh says:

    Growing up all my clothes came from thrift stores. My mom would make trips to Birmingham to see her Mom and there was this really good thrift store there that got all the Vestavia Hills (the rich part of Birmingham) left overs. I always got complimented on how well I dressed. I dressed better than those who had new clothes.

    I remember once (I must have been around 10) actually getting a brand new coat for Christmas (members only jacket) and it got stolen from me the first day I wore it to school. This new kid, who was a total SOB just grabbed it from the gym floor where I had laid it (stupid me), and decided it was his. I told the teacher he had taken it and it was mine and he was pretending that it was his. They couldn’t prove it was mine and did nothing about it.

    I’ll try and raise some money by selling some stuff on ebay. How long do I have to raise some money?

  3. Nancy says:

    Here, down under, we are in the middle of winter, and I’ve already been helping out the kids in my girls’ classes…a lot of lower income kids in their school, and trust me when I say that the hard times are hitting NZ worse than the US right now. (We are paying $2.20/litre for petrol, cheese costs $17/kilo, its ridiculous). This winter is BRUTAL so far and we still have two months to go (at least)!

    Anyway, I’ve been pulling clothes that don’t fit the girls and giving them to my netball team as most of the girls don’t have much. I’ve also been shopping the second hand stores and picking stuff up to alter for whomever. I’ve also been fixing stuff for people who ask me to, once they find out I have machines, and I refuse payment.

    The whole thing reminds me of the stories my nana and mom would tell about the depression….

  4. Kathi S says:

    When my son was in elementary school he was very careless with his jackets. He lost several which drove me nuts. Once, he left one on the school bus. It was a fairly distinctive style. When we went to look for it at the bus office, it was missing. A few days later, I was working at another school (the busses served several in our district) I spied his jacket on another boy (I could tell it was the same from a small stain on the front). He was a scruffy looking kid, in holey jeans, probably from the trailer park where a most of the families were quite disadvantaged. It was cold and by now, I had already replaced the coat so I just let it go- obviously this kid had a greater need for it and was more likely to take care of it than my own son.

  5. Rebecca Martin says:

    How and where can I actually donate winter coats in the south suburban area of Chicago or near Kankakee IL?

  6. raghav chhabra says:

    hi! Kathleen,
    may be i can help .but i am located in India .far away though ….
    my mom is a teacher at a school and i am sure everywear we can collect a considerable qty of jackets and send for these kids u mentioned in your article but i would like to do some research on the legalities involved with regards to export of used apparel to a foreign country .yes the shipping costs can be collected borne by people who wish to donate .what say .
    This is just an intial thought bt may u can help to refine this thought process and together we can make this a reality .

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