Koats for Kids Drive Keeps Rockford Kids Playing Outside this Winter

Nov 12, 2021

After the past couple years of lockdowns and remote learning, being able to play outside with friends has been especially fun and freeing for area children. Unfortunately, for kids in families that can’t afford warm coats, the fast-approaching winter temperatures are threatening that fun.

That’s why this year’s Koats for Kids coat drive – sponsored by The Salvation Army of Winnebago County late last month – was especially vital this year.

“We spoke to teachers and school leaders asking how we could help kids as they came back to school. We heard kids are dealing with the effects of isolation during the pandemic,” said Major Monty Wandling, Winnebago County Coordinator for The Salvation Army. “Getting items that will allow kids to get outside for recess and outdoor play directly responds to current needs in our community.” 

Maureen Kirschmann, the Family and Community Engagement Supervisor for Rockford Public Schools, has seen this need firsthand. “We want to ensure all students are warm enough for bus stops, recess, and after-school activities,” she said. “We all know how cold our winters can be and how uncomfortable it is to be cold.”

As they do every fall, The Salvation Army of Winnebago County called on area residents to donate new and gently used children’s coats, snow boots, snow pants, hats, scarves, and gloves. On October 23, they collected nearly 1,800 of these items in a drive-through format at the Rockford Temple Corps Community Center. That impressive number includes an early contribution of 500 new coats from one anonymous donor.

“It is beautiful to see our community come together to support our students,” Maureen said. “The partnership with The Salvation Army means we can help keep our students warm and safe.” Teachers at 13 Rockford elementary schools and a few additional sites in the school district will distribute these items to students in need.

“We are so grateful for our long-standing partnership with the Salvation Army,” Maureen said. “They do so much to help our community.”

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