Service organization provides coats for kids, exceeds donation goals

by Holly Coombs

The Cedar City chapter of Knights of Columbus, the nationwide Catholic Church fraternal service organization, sponsored an effort to donate 740 coats to kids in need within Iron County in 2016.

“It’s pretty rewarding,” Howard Austin, a member of Knights for Columbus said. “We’ve been able to exceed past Knights of Columbus groups and even the (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) groups have helped which is why it went sky high this year.”

Austin said the Coats for Kids effort began in 2013 with 235 coats donated. In 2014 and 2015 the coats went to 300 and 400 donations. He said people also donate other items including hats, gloves and boots with 960 items collected in total this year with 760 of that amount being coats.

Kids in need of these items have live as far as Beryl, Enterprise and New Castle, Austin said.

“We want this to be a community thing,” he said. “Everybody gains something from the opportunity to serve those in need.”

The Family Support Center of Southern Utah, located at 102 N. 200 East in Cedar City, distributes coats to community kids in need.

Connie Sowards, Family Support Center of Southern Utah Executive Director, said the generosity of the Cedar CIty community is “astounding.”

“We received so many holiday donations that we had to ask for a second storage unit which Cedar Storage willingly donated,” she said. “We handed out coats to many families and delivered some to different schools in the county to hand out to children without coats.”

Family Support Center of Southern Utah Donations Coordinator Sherri Brower picked up donations from the center by truckload every day, Sowards said.

“The holiday season was a busy time for us and we are able to provide warm coats, hats, gloves and blankets to hundreds of children, including many in foster care,” she said. “We are so appreciative to the Knights of Columbus and many other organizations, businesses and individuals who donated to the Family Support Center for us to distribute to children in need.”

Sowards said they still have some gently used coats available from kid to adult size.

Harry Polland, a Knights of Columbus member, said coats give kids a leg up to go to school. Polland said he hopes they can also donate books because books also give children a leg up in life.

Boxes were set out for donations in the early fall and collected in the last month from locations including Intermountain Farmers Association, C-A-L Ranch Store, T.J. Maxx, both State Bank of Southern Utah locations, Wells Fargo Bank, Walmart Supercenter and Christensens Department Store, Sam Kravetz, a member of the Knights of Columbus said.

Can donation locations were also at IFA, Applebee’s Grill & Bar, Christensen’s Department Store, American Grill, Broncos, The Little Brick House, The Pizza Factory, Bulloch Drug, Mike’s Tavern, Sizzler’s Family Restaurant, Wet Willies Car Wash, Denny’s and Market Grill, Kravetz said.

“The Knights of Columbus national organization back east started the Coats for Kids effort and it was brought to our county chapter,” he said. “It is has been outstanding to participate in such an effort. We feel we really progressed into a community event.”

He said Jeff and Debbie Cowan in the LDS Church helped the effort grow by advertising in many wards in the community. In addition to collecting and putting out donation boxes, the coats were also laundered and mended, if a zipper was broken, before they were distributed to kids.

Kravetz’s wife, Marty, did much work to make sure the coats were in satisfactory condition for the children. Marty Kravetz said she was happy to be able to help children in the community that don’t have much.

“It’s amazing how many kids in this community that are homeless,” she said.

Among some of the supporters, Austin said, Walmart, Wells Fargo and State Bank of Southern Utah have been the biggest donation distributors.

“Cedar City is a special place,” Polland said. “The community is so generous. They are always willing to help and that’s what makes it a great place to live.”

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