The gift of warmth in winter

by Stefanie Vrapi –

A boy holds up his new coat. [Photo by Sydney Fong]

With arms full of colorful coats, parents and kids alike were all smiles at the 19th Annual News 10 Coats for Kids winter coat distribution day, a long-standing partnership with one of the area’s highest ranking television news stations and The Salvation Army.

Coats for Kids is the major community project for News 10, an ABC affiliate based in Sacramento, Calif. The station airs hundreds of public service announcements inviting the public to donate new or gently used coats at a number of local drop-off locations, to give to people in need. Coats are given to people of all ages, not just kids.

Since the program’s inception 19 years ago, over 200,000 coats have been given away. This year’s goal was 30,000 coats, and over 33,000 were donated with every coat given to someone in need. Over 10,000 were given out at a location in Sacramento, California’s capitol city, and 10,000 more through eight other participating corps. Though not all the coats were given away in one day, the remaining coats were distributed to other social service organizations, including homeless shelters and schools in low-income areas.

Many of the individuals and families who came to the Coats for Kids distribution day are living at or below the poverty level. The need for new coats was very visible; some came in wearing only a long-sleeve knit shirt or an old coat with holes and stains.

Single mothers, homeless people and residents with multiple children were the majority of the shoppers. The Salvation Army also provides food, rental and utility assistance for many of the people who stopped by for coats.

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