I moved to the Wenatchee Valley this time of year six years ago from Colorado. It was a cold, snowy winter and I vividly remember driving my daughter to school and seeing kids walking with no coats on. At first I thought it was odd, then I realized that these kids didn’t have coats. My friend, Sheri Hedding, spoke in church about kids in the area needing coats and other clothing. I asked around and some people thought there was a coat drive, but they weren’t quite sure. I finally spoke to the principal at my daughter’s school and he said, “No, we don’t receive coat donations, and yes — there is a need.” Done.
Wenatchee Valley Coats for Kids was started in 2011. Here’s the spiel: We collect new and gently used, clean coats, hats, gloves and scarves for kids ages preschool through high school in the Wenatchee Valley. We donate the coats to schools in the Wenatchee and Eastmont districts. Our wonderful teachers, advocates and principals take care of getting coats to the kids that need them. I’m just here to gather them up.
I’m blessed with the opportunity to have the backing of my employer, The Wenatchee World, and my husband’s employer, Cherry Creek Media. Together we let the community know about the coat drive. Our daughter, who is 11, has helped every year. We talk about the need, the importance of service, and how blessed we are to be able to help. She’s stepped up her involvement every year, including sorting, bagging, and tagging the coats. My daughter and some of her friends had the opportunity to record the radio commercial for this year’s coat drive.
The support and donations of sponsors, friends, and the community is overwhelming. People just pull up with new coats that still have the price tags on them or hand me a twenty dollar bill. I don’t even know who they are. I get pretty emotional. I’m proud to say that 100 percent of the donations go to purchase coats. And that friend from church? Sheri and Tim Hedding have delivered every coat to every school over the past five years! They’re awesome. We’ve donated about 2,500 coats so far. And thanks to Apple Valley Honda, I’ve got 20 brand new coats to kick off the 2016 drive. I email the schools every year to confirm the coats are coming, and sure enough they still need them.
Please join me. Drop off a coat, a couple bucks, a pair of gloves, or just stop by and say hello. I’ll be set up in the Albertsons parking lot on Saturday, October 22nd, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Yep, that’s Make a Difference Day. You can find out more on our Facebook page. Our motto is Warm Coats, Warm Hearts. Help me do both for children in the Wenatchee Valley.
(First photo: My daughter digging for coats at the 2013 coat drive. Second photo: Molina Healthcare donated $1,000 to the coat drive in 2014 and in 2015. Pictured are volunteers from the 2015 coat drive.)