You may already be familiar with the Junior League of Austin’s annual coat drive, Coats for Kids. It’s an amazing initiative that has been providing children and teens in Central Texas with warm winter coats for 29 years.
On December 12, 2015, Junior League of Austin distributed 35,000 winter coats to thousands of families who needed coats for their children.
Have you ever wondered how your donated coats find their way to deserving children? We did. So this year we took a behind-the-scenes look to figure out how the magic works. And some sweet Lake Travis youngsters helped us out.
Did you know? It takes more than 2,200 volunteers and dedicated Junior League of Austin members to make this wonderful coat drive happen every holiday season.
Step 1 – Collecting Coats
The first step started with collecting coats. My son and his best friend who turned eight in mid-October had a joint birthday party and in lieu of gifts, they asked for new or gently used coats. They collected around 30 coats. Not too shabby!
Step 2 – More Coats, Please!
Then Lakeway Elementary staff and PTO members decided why not expand this initiative school-wide. Lakeway Elementary began collecting coats at the school and Learning Express Toys joined in by putting collection bins in their store at Hill Country Galleria too.
Did you know? In its first Coats for Kids foray, Lakeway Elementary collected more than 215 coats and ranked third overall in elementary schools in Austin. (Good job, Mustangs!)
Step 3 – Adding Donated Coats
Now it was time for step three, which was for the birthday boys to place all of the coats they collected in the collection bin at the elementary school.
They were excited too see their efforts taking shape and counted all of the coats with big grins on their faces. Then they got to accompany their coats to Jack Brown Cleaners where they dropped them off to be cleaned.
Did you know? Jack Brown Cleaners has collected, cleaned, and distributed over 750,000 warm winter coats for the children of Central Texas during the past 29 years.
Step 4 – Youth Sorting Night
The final step in the giving process for the birthday boys was to help sort all of the coats at Youth Sorting Night at the Palmer Events Center.
This special night with Junior League of Austin was designed for children 15 and younger, so they can make a hands-on impact. And boy, did they work hard!
More than 300 children attended Youth Sorting Night, including many students from Lake Travis schools, churches and youth organizations.
On the day prior to sorting night, 4,000 coats were delivered to Palmer Events Center with an average of 5 coats per box. They had 800 boxes that had to be unpacked, hung on hangers and sorted by size.
Kiddos (and their parents and volunteers) were stationed at tables unpacking boxes, while kiddos were zipping through the space with rolling racks. It was chaotic, yet organized because thanks to so many little helping hands, all of those coats were sorted in about 75 minutes!
It was a really amazing experience to see racks and racks of beautiful, colorful, clean winter coats ready for distribution in Central Texas. Watching the kids work so hard was also uplifting because their enthusiasm was contagious — they felt the joy of giving back — the best gift of all.
For families who want to give back to the community, which initiative do you enjoy and/or recommend during the holiday season?