A Day of Giving provides the welcome gift of warmth

When Samuel Johnson of Kansas City, North, saw on television Saturday morning that people were lined up at Kansas City’s Success Academy to receive free winter coats and clothing, he knew what he had to do with some extra shoes.

“They’ve just been sitting in the back of my garage,” Johnson said.

So as he showed up at the Kansas City school’s Anderson Gymnasium at 1601 Forest Ave. carrying about 40 pairs of shoes, he got a big hug from Linda May, coordinator of the school district’s A Day of Giving project.

Johnson understands that a lot of people are in need.

“Wish it wasn’t like that, but that’s the way it is,” he said. “I’m glad I was able to help out.”

May, family engagement coordinator for Kansas City Public Schools and founder of A Day of Giving, said the event provides coats, clothing, books and school supplies to families in need.

“So many times, we are on the receiving end,” she said. “But today we want to give back to our communities and our families.”

This is the second year for A Day of Giving, which helped about 1,400 people last year. May estimated that more than 2,000 coats were available Saturday, and the district will continue to give them away in the weeks ahead to anyone who couldn’t make it Saturday.

Coats were donated through KMBZ radio’s Coats for Kids program, as well as by individuals, including district staff members.

“This is so important because we want our students to first of all be successful,” May said. “To be successful, we have to meet our families’ social needs. So if a child doesn’t have warm winter wear, is that child prepared to come to school to learn?”

Janae Robbins of Kansas City said the giveaway meant a lot to her, providing her daughter a warm coat.

“Even though I work, I am what I consider the working poor,” she said. “I have enough money to pay my utilities and my mortgage, but there is never enough money to buy the extra stuff.”