CLA is Helping Kids Stay Warm This Winter

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Coats for Kids
Photo by Megan Pounder/SaultOnline

Community Living Algoma held its 24th annual Coats for Kids campaign on Saturday morning at their location on White Oak Drive E.

Brought to fruition by a member of CTV 24 years ago, this free campaign is just one of the ways CLA helps the community. Volunteers spent six weeks prior to this event collecting and quality-checking over 800 coats that were donated to this year’s cause. The CLA also collects snow pants, boots, hats and gloves for this initiative.

Wilfred and his wife, Gina, brought their five grandchildren, ages 4 through 15, to pick out their own coats for this upcoming winter. This is their second time utilizing this resource.

They both said they think this is a great resource, especially for them since they’re raising a big family.

“For us, it helps us a great deal, because we’re raising five grand kids,” Gina said. “Every year, they seem to get one size up, and if we had to take them all to purchase coats, it would be quite a big sum for us. So this is definitely a big help for our family this year.”

Coats for Kids Coordinator Anita Paci said their ultimate goal is to put a coat on every child. That being said, the turnout fluctuates over the years, based on the needs of the community.

“Winter coats are like a transition – so some years you need them, some years you don’t need them,” she explained.

Paci told SaultOnline that it feels good to be able to do this for the community.

“I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. Every year gets better and better. You always come away with a sense that we were able to provide something to local families in need,” she said.

She went on to explain that they try to treat each family with dignity. One way of doing that is by the recent addition to the program of a “personal shopper.” That volunteer/shopper takes families one-on-one and helps them with their sizes and what they need.

“So when they leave here, the family themselves don’t feel like they’ve gone to a place where we discriminate or think that they’re below us,” she explained. “We treat everyone equally and we try to provide them with a happy shopping experience.”

Paci said she thinks this campaign is important because children everywhere need winter attire.

“It gets cold. You’re looking at minus 30-minus 40. And they’re kids, they play in the snow. They need to be warm.”

Any leftover coats and winter wear gets donated to local service agencies who then disperse them to families in need as they see fit.

For more information on CLA, visit their website here or check them out on Facebook.