by Emily Miller and Allison Knowles –
CAPT. DOUG RILEY, Peja Stojakovic and children gather in warehouse containing 7,000 winter coats that will be sent to Serbia and Montenegro.
Through an admirable collaboration between News10 Coats for Kids, The Salvation Army-Sacramento, and the Peja Stojakovic Children’s Foundation, over 7,000 warm winter coats will be shipped and distributed to thousands of adults, children and homeless orphans in the countries of Serbia and Montenegro.
For 13 years, News10 (the local ABC affiliate) and The Salvation Army have held an annual winter coat drive for Sacramento and the surrounding area. In January 2004, the local community generously donated a record-breaking 36,000 coats, and it soon became clear that something extra needed to be done to find “good homes” for all of the donations. So The Salvation Army and News10 partnered with Peja Stojakovic—a 6’9”, 229 lbs., Sacramento Kings basketball player. Stojakovic, a native of Yugoslavia, founded the Peja Stojakovic Children’s Foundation to provide much-needed winter clothing (coats, gloves, hats, etc.) for the displaced youth, many of whom are homeless orphans, in Serbia and Montenegro. Largely forgotten by the world, more than 500,000 people have been affected by the violence that took place throughout the 1990’s in the former Yugoslavia, and they continue to reside in Serbia—some in refugee shelters, but most in private homes and apartments.
Recently, at The Salvation Army’s Sacramento Metro Warehouse, volunteers attached tags to each of the coats displaying Peja’s Foundation logo, The Salvation Army Shield and News10’s logo. Even Peja stopped by to tag a few remaining coats and to personally thank The Salvation Army for the 7,000 coat donation. The Sacramento ARC also partnered on this project and baled all of the coats in order to prepare them for shipment.
Once inside Serbia, the American Red Cross is also partnering on this project to oversee the distribution of the coats. It’s exciting to think that a local coat drive has the ability to touch so many lives—even thousands of lives in a far away country!