Like many people, we love the excuse to hit the toy aisles this time of year, especially with so many opportunities to buy for children whose families can't, but one of our favorite December campaigns is a reminder that many Chicago-area children need far more important items.
Since 2006, Coat Angels has reached out to teachers and social workers in schools in impoverished neighborhoods to identify students who need winter clothing. The program started with 20 children and now serves more than 4000. Each child receives a brand-new coat, fleece pullover, a hat and gloves. The coats are purchased new for each child and the volunteers ensure they are a perfect fit.
"We give these kids a sense of worth and a sense of pride," says founder Micki LeSueur. "And this is one little area of their life where they have something that was picked out just for them. It's not a hand-me-down. It lets them know they are worth our time and our thought."
Giving Back When the Temperature Drops
Earlier this month on a chilly afternoon, eight Roscoe employees helped the organization deliver and distribute carloads of cozy winter wear to more than 200 students at an elementary school in the Austin neighborhood. It was the company's third year of participation in the program.
We helped each child try on their coats to make sure they fit, and pick out matching hats and gloves. Coat Angels raises money throughout the year, then buys the coats specifically for each child, in a variety of styles and colors, so the children don't end up all wearing the same coats. It costs $50 to outfit each child with a new coat, pullover, hat and gloves.
But you can't put a price on the way it feels to witness their excitement at trying on a brand new coat in a favorite color. This year, more than a few little girls were thrilled to discover unicorns on their new pullovers."It was just really exciting and rewarding. The kids' faces literally lit up," said Human Resources Team Leader Theresa Faulkner, who helps organize Roscoe's participation each year. This year's effort also included a $1,000 company donation, which made us all feel a little warmer.
Share the Warmth by Becoming a Coat Angel
Thank you letters from some of the children who have received coats provide a glimpse into how much the work of Coat Angels is appreciated.
"The fact that I have someone to care if I am warm or not is so nice," one girl wrote. "I'm not cold anymore thanks to you," wrote a boy.
To learn how you can help, visit the Coat Angels website. The need for coats is greater every year and there are always more requests than there are coats. Make a donation in honor of someone on your Christmas list and Coat Angels will send you a card that you can send to share the warm feeling with them.
Wishing you all warm and happy holidays from all of us at Roscoe!