More than 130 Cleburne ISD elementary students have new coats, just in time for the winter weather, through the efforts of a group of Cleburne High School peers.
Smith Boles, Katie Catchpole, Evan Galloway, Cheyenne Green and Elizabeth Robinson, with their Family and Community Services teacher Radea Griffith, worked together in organizing the Coats for Kids project. With input from elementary counselors and permission from the parents of recipients, the CHS juniors began the task of collecting new coats for 134 elementary students who were known to be without.
Griffith said each student involved in the project was asked to find donations for 15 new coats.
“They asked their classmates, families, teachers and businesses if they would contribute coats,” Griffith said. “We also had some coats brought in by ‘walk-ins.’ They said they didn’t know who to give the coats to, but they wanted to help. Those coats were a blessing. I’m so proud of these students and how hard they worked.”
Green was coat drive leader, in bringing in a total of 66. Major contributors from the community included James Hardie, Heritage Trails Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and The Yoga Room.
“I love helping others,” said Green as she worked with her CHS teammates in organizing and tagging the coats for delivery. “I got my driver’s license just for this class because I knew community service would be involved. I wanted to be able to help deliver or pick up whatever might be needed.”
Boles said she joined the Coats for Kids team in a desire to help in the community.
“I thought it would be great to help people who live in the same community as I do,” she said. “I just find our community to be one big family. If someone is in need, we help them out. It’s not because they aren’t working hard or not trying. Sometimes, no matter what you do, it’s not enough.”
Catchpole said she remembers a similar program at her school growing up.
“I remember a program that provided coats at my elementary school,” Catchpole said. “It’s easy to see how these coats will make a difference. I remember when I was in middle school, there was a kid who only had one polo shirt, one pair of torn up jeans and no coat. Some of his teachers got together and bought him clothes. It’s so impressive how people care about someone, even those they hardly know.”
Griffith said several of the CHS teachers who contributed to the project had their own children go shopping with them to pick out a coat.
“Some of them also wrote notes to accompany the coats,” Griffith said. “Some shared that the coat was their favorite color and they hoped the recipient would like it. Children have compassion and enjoy being involved in acts of kindness. My daughter, who is now in first grade, decided to clean out her closet last year. When I asked what she wanted to do with the clothes she was discarding, she said she wanted to give them to a little girl in her class who wore the same clothes over and over.
“This impacts even the little ones. My daughter is so excited that we are doing this. I’m very thankful for our community, in the response we received. The holiday season can be a hard time of year to get donations, with so many groups seeking assistance. But those we contacted jumped right in to help. We plan to make this an annual project. We know the need is there.”
Family and Community Services is a lab-based course designed to involve CHS students in realistic and meaningful community-centered activities. Students are provided opportunities to interact and provide services to individuals, families and the community in a voluntary capacity. Emphasis is placed on developing and enhancing organizational and leadership skills and characteristics.