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Coats For Kids donations keep thousands of kids warm this winter

By Eric Dutkiewicz, 01/07/19, 2:30PM EST

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Thanks to the generosity of people in Northeast Indiana, the 19th annual Coats For Kids campaign will help children in need stay warm this winter.

More than 5,000 coats were donated during the 2-week drive, according to officials with the Volunteer Center RSVP, the Fort Wayne organization that puts on the drive. Additionally, Coats For Kids collected hats, gloves scarves and monetary donations for schools and social services agencies in 10 counties in the region.


“Around this time of year, a lot of students come out without coats,” Jodi Smith-Causey, case manager at St. Joseph Central Elementary School in Fort Wayne, says. “Some can’t afford them. Some just didn’t bring them. (Coats For Kids) has been a life-line.”

The coats were collected from Nov. 13 through Dec. 2 at several drop off sites, including Parkview Ortho Hospital, the SportONE/Parkview Fieldhouse. The coats were then dry-cleaned, sorted at Community Harvest Food Bank North and distributed by volunteers and members of the Fort Wayne Fire Department.

More than 25 percent of children in Fort Wayne live in poverty, Ani Etter, executive director of the Volunteer Center, says. With that need, she is grateful there is such a giving community willing and ready to help.

“Sometimes, people want to help; but they don’t know what to do,” Etter adds. “And a coat or $25 to provide that for a child is a simple and tangible thing.”

Anyone wishing to still help now that the Coats For Kids drive is over may drop off new or gently-used coats at Peerless Cleaner stores. Monetary donations are accepted year-round on the Volunteer Center website.

Families seeking coats from the Coats For Kids drive should contact their schools’ case managers or counselors to start a referral process. Social service agencies in need of coats for children may contact the Volunteer Center at 260.424.3505 or email info@volunteerfortwayne.org.