Coats for Kids program warms hearts
Rotarians (from left) Dave Nicolle, Dave Bradshaw, Donna Raytrowsky, Barb Billings and, kneeling, Bettyann Carty, hold some of the many coats that were part of the distribution process of Coats for Kids on Saturday at First Baptist Church in Simcoe. SUSAN GAMBLE/POSTMEDIA NEWS
If it takes a village to raise a child it’s no wonder a big part of Simcoe is involved in keeping kids warm.
A team effort culminated in the distribution of 282 coats and 212 sets of toques and mittens by the Coats for Kids committee on Saturday at First Baptist Church.
“You get a big charge out of it, especially when you see the joy in the little kids’ eyes,” said committee chair Dave Nicolle as the event wrapped up for another year.
Nicolle said the event has been around for about two decades but stumbled a bit trying to find good footing. Initiated by Burtol Cleaners the event needed a distribution system and volunteers.
By partnering with the Rotary Club of Norfolk Sunrise and the First Baptist Church, and with the support of the community, Coats for Kids has succeeded for about 20 years.
Items are dropped off at Burtol’s or four other spots and the cleaner takes in, cleans and repairs the slightly used warm coats.
The coats pour in to the church building and are quickly organized by volunteers who are mostly Rotarians. The inventory is augmented by dozens and dozens of colourful toque and mitten sets created by the Langton Knitters, who work on the project all year long and add in a few soft baby blankets.
Then the community arrives, bright and early.
“At 8:20 a.m. there were people lined up at the door waiting,” said Nicolle.
“The kids are excited to get the hats and mittens and we all get a big charge out of it. We feel really honoured to be providing something back to the community.”
Rotarian Donna Raytrowsky said the event attracts some people who have very large families.
“If you have six or seven kids, it’s difficult to buy winter coats for that many and hand-me-downs won’t last through all the kids.”
She said the event is a friendly one and the volunteers are all pleasant and helpful, trying to ensure the visitors find a good size and colour.
Adults are encouraged to take a coat too, if it’s needed.
Volunteer Barb Billings said she’s pleased Rotarians can facilitate the event.
“Burtol wants to give back to the community and we can be the go-between. People around here are happy to clean out their closets and know their stuff is going to a good cause.”
Although the event is scheduled to run from 9-11 a.m., Billings said return visitors know the secret of getting the best choice.
“You’ve got to come when we open if you want to get a certain size. We’re cleaned out pretty quickly.”