Last year, nearly 600 kids walked away from the Johnson County Christmas Bureau’s holiday shop with only a lightweight jacket or hooded sweatshirt because there weren’t enough winter coats to go around.
By JENNIFER BHARGAVA
Special to The Star
It saddened volunteers for the organization, which annually provides clothing and personal items for low-income families in the winter holiday season.
“Having coats for children is most critical, because we don’t want those kids to be cold walking to school or waiting for the bus,” said Barbara McNeile, the executive director of the Christmas Burea. “Our wish is that next year, we can provide every child with the right size coat with proper warmth — something they would be proud to wear.”
To make sure it doesn’t repeat the past, the organization is hosting its annual coat drive this month, instead of the fall. There are numerous barrels placed around Johnson County for quick and easy coat donations. Area schools are also holding their own drives.
By getting an early start, McNeile hopes the bureau can make sure each of the 7,500 kids who attends the shop next year will receive a warm winter coat in their size.
“When we collected coats in the fall, we were already running around like chickens with our heads cut off because we were so busy putting everything together for the shop,” she said. “We would just pray that coats would come in. Doing the drive in the spring not only helps us be better prepared, but helps parents who already know if their kids are going to fit into the same winter coat next year. This way, they can donate their old coats to us while they’re doing spring cleaning.”
In addition to kids’ sizes, the organization is also accepting adult-sized coats and monetary donations.
To help promote the drive, the mayors of Overland Park, Shawnee, and Olathe have signed proclamations declaring April as “Collect Coats for a Cause” month.
For more information about the coat drive and for a list of donation sites, visit www.jccb.org.