Coat-A-Kid drive aims to keep students warm

August 12, 2018

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The Oklahoma City community is full of people with huge hearts. Already this year donors have contributed nearly $30,000 to The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public School's annual Coat-A-Kid program. These donations will purchase 1,400 new winter coats for our kids in need. One generous donor has committed to coats for three entire schools that are close to his business in northeast OKC.

This is an amazing start, but is a far cry from filling all of our needs. The OKCPS community relations team is already working with school personnel to determine exact needs and sizes. We estimate needing a total of $120,000 to coat every child in need throughout the school district. The first coat orders will be placed the first week of October to be delivered before temperatures fall.

The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools works in partnership with the OKCPS Community Relations team each year to be sure that no student is without a warm coat. Thousands of students have this need each year, which is unfathomable for most of us. School personnel share many stories about students arriving at school on very cold days dressed in sweatshirts and hoodies because that is all they have. Coat-A-Kid ensures this won't happen.

Last year's successful Coat-A-Kid effort allowed for the purchase of 7,000 coats for Oklahoma City Public Schools students. Bluesource, a vendor housed in Guthrie, provides the coats at a low cost and provides many color and size options.

There are naysayers who comment that providing coats for kids is shameful for them. Our donors know better, especially when they see if for themselves and volunteer on coat delivery day. Last year there were hundreds of kids at Westwood Elementary School on delivery day, when it was nearly 90 degrees outside. The smiles on their faces as they selected the color coat they wanted and tried it on for fit made clear that feeling embarrassed was far from their minds. Students bantered with each other as they waited in line as to whether they wanted a black ninja coat, an orange and blue Thunder coat, a pink princess coat or one of the many other choices.

We really are moving in the right direction to fill needs for our schools. Community partners continue to rally to assist teachers and classrooms through DonorsChoose.org and schools are connecting with partners for time, talent and treasure through Partners in Action. These are all initiatives providing the mechanism for community members to help, because we know that our schools can't do it alone.

A winter coat is one of the most basic of needs and no child should have to worry about how to stay warm in the cold.

With your continued help, our kids won't wait at the bus stop or walk to school without a coat this winter. This not only keeps them safe and healthy, it ensures that they arrive at school ready to learn.

To assist with Coat-A-Kid or any of the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools efforts, go to okckids.com.

Mary Melon is the president/CEO of The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools.

Read Mary Mélon's original NewsOK editorial.