CLEVELAND — Every year at this time, temperatures start to fall and we could even see snowflakes. 

That means it’s time to pull out the winter coats. But for many kids here in Northeast Ohio, there isn’t a winter coat hanging in the back of the closet.

That’s where Coats for Kids comes in. Each year, they collect new and like-new winter coats in all sizes, infant to adult. Collection bins are now in place at all major shopping malls and other participating businesses like Petitti Garden Centers, Waterway Carwash, Quaker Steak & Lube, DO Summers dry cleaning locations and more.

Coat collection campaigns are also underway at other community locations including Howard Hanna Real Estate Offices. Other area organizations, like WKYC Studios, also conduct their own internal coat collection campaigns to make sure every child who needs a coat, gets one.

Coats for Kids also accepts monetary donations so they can buy coats as well. In fact, you can buy a paper coat at Discount Drug Mart for $1, and that money goes directly to Coats for Kids. That campaign goes through Dec. 4.

This year, Coats for Kids basically had to start over after a gas leak last February caused a fire in the building that housed their warehouse. The flames took everything.

“There's nothing left. That's the word we got. There's nothing left,” said Loretta Arnold, the operations manager for Coats for Kids. “We didn't even have a pencil to write with."

Luckily, last year’s coats were already given out, but they still lost about 1,000 of them. However, when word got out about the fire, support poured in and once again, Coats for Kids is ready to provide warm coats to children that need them.

Those new coats are distributed via a formal program with public schools – grades K-8 with the highest percentages of children living below federal poverty levels in the five county area Coats for Kids serves (Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Geauga and Medina counties).

Coats for Kids started back in 1981. Since then, millions of dollars have been raised and hundreds of thousands of coats have been handed out to children in need in northeast Ohio. 

For a list of all locations where you can donate a new or like new winter coat, or to make a monetary donation, visit CoatsForKidsCleveland.org.

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