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Coats Warm Kids in Billings

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by Captain Randall Kinnamon – 

The chilly Montana wind bites extra hard for Brittany Belgrade and Caleb Rasmussen. They are just two of the needy children who received clothing through the Dress-A-Child program in Billings, Mont. The Salvation Army, with the help of donor volunteers, turns winter chills into the joy and warmth of a boy eagerly donning his new coat, or his sister’s pride in wearing a special dress, or the overwhelming satisfaction a volunteer feels when a child declares, “These are the best shoes I’ve ever owned.”

The Army’s Dress-A-Child program matches donors with disadvantaged, school-aged children allowing each donor to escort a child on a one-hour shopping spree at a Billings area K-Mart or Wal-Mart store. The volunteer donates $95 and reports for duty at 7:30 a.m. on one of three Saturdays. This year more than 300 kids received this special, one-on-one attention. “These kids will go to school on Monday morning with warm clothes, a smile, and a boost of self-esteem,” says Corps Officer Captain Cheryl Kinnamon.

Salvation Army Advisory Board and Lions Club member Jerry Leggate would never miss this activity for anything. “I think this is great,” he chimes cheerfully while escorting Caleb from one clothing aisle to the next. As a long time Board member, Jerry considers Dress-A-Child to be one of the most dynamic and effective programs that help underprivileged children during Montana’s most nippy time of year. “I just love it!”

Together, the staff at The Salvation Army with the donors and volunteers that they recruit make an important bond and fill a vital need. Perhaps there is no better way to share the Christmas spirit than to make a child warm and happy.

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