As the temperature snaps from delightful to frightful, parents everywhere are scrambling to snatch up winter gear that will keep their kiddos safe from the cold. Sadly despite all their efforts, many of these parents are not able to afford the cost of new coats and hats for little ones who seem to grow two sizes every year.
The very thought of any child having to go without proper winter wear was enough to motivate P4K Operations Manager, Jen Arnold to do something about it. “When I started with P4K in 2011, I overheard a colleague mention one of the teachers she works with was using her own money to purchase a warm coat for a student,” Arnold says. “It really struck me, so I decided to start the P4K clothing drive.”
Arnold remembers the overwhelming response the drive received that first year. “It was so huge,” she says. “The donations we received actually filled an entire U-Haul! We had everything from baby clothes to men’s suits,” she laughs.
This year Arnold added a few more donation guidelines to the list of clothing items that would be collected for the drive. “We specifically asked for new or gently used coats, hats, mittens, scarves and socks for our P4K students,” she said.
With the new guidelines in place and the help of some generous corporations including InterPublic Group, Solution One, and Burlington Capital Group as well as many kind individual donors, the 2014 Gift of Warmth Clothing Drive has been extremely successful. “We were able to fill 6 huge bins full of winter gear that will be distributed at Saratoga, Howard Kennedy, and Conestoga Elementary as well as Miller Park and McMillan Middle Schools” Arnold said.
In addition Hy-Vee Foods on 50th & Center Streets added to the collection of winter-wear by hosting a drive among their employees. All collected items will be distributed to students in need at their neighborhood P4K school, Jackson Elementary.
Regular P4K corporate partner, OPPD helped spread the drive generosity even further this year by inspiring the students of Fire Ridge Elementary to join the effort. OPPD employee, David Theobald took the idea to the Fire Ridge Elementary student council, where his children attend school. They were eager to help out,” Theobald said. “They really liked the idea of helping out another elementary school. The clothing items collected by the students included 85 coats, 193 pairs of gloves, 175 hats, 40 scarves, 37 pairs of socks and a variety of other winter weather accessories. All the items collected by OPPD and the Fire Ridge students will be distributed to students in need at Field Club Elementary.
“We are so grateful for the generosity of all those who lent a helping hand to this project,” Arnold said. “These items will help many students stay warm this winter.”