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Education Station: Coats for Kids in its 40th year keeping Cleveland students warm

The charity began its annual distribution to schools with more coats than usual this year, and without one of its most notable figures.

CLEVELAND — Coats for Kids kicked off its annual campaign this week, and WKYC continues to be a proud sponsor. 3News met up with some of the workers in the Coats for Kids warehouse, as they gear up to get 10’s of thousands of coats out to schools in time for winter.

You may have already noticed big red bins and barrels around the area. 2021 marks the 40th year Coats for Kids has been helping school-aged children stay warm in cold weather months.

"This year, we’ll probably give away anywhere from, I’d say, 18-25 thousand coats. We started out a little bit ahead of the game, so we have more to give out this year," says Coats for Kids Executive Director Debbie Martinko.

Distribution difficulties and students learning at home last winter left more coats available for this winter - an unexpected 'plus' of the pandemic.

"I immediately thought 'How do we help more kids? Can we get more stuff out there?'," says Loretta Arnold, Operations manager for the Coats for Kids warehouse.

When schools place their orders, Loretta makes sure boxes are filled with the correct size and number of coats, identifying colors correspond, and 10’s of thousands of coats are correctly labeled and addressed to the proper schools.

"We literally will go to all of those pallets and go 'Ok, we need so many of these, so many of that'. Every school has a different colored label on the box, so in case the box rolls around in the truck or gets tossed around, we'll still know which school it's going to. Might be that Almira is orange and A. B. Hart is green," says Arnold.

Coats for Kids started distributing to schools on Monday, without one of its most familiar faces. You can’t think of Coats for Kids without Mike Trivisonno - or “Triv” - coming to mind. The radio talk show host - staunchly devoted to the charity for decades - died last week.

"He’ll be very difficult to replace. Everything that we can do to help children, especially now that we’ve just lost Triv, I think it means that much more to all of us. Our hope is that we can build on the strong foundation that he gave us," says Martinko.

RELATED: 'There would be no Coats for Kids': Mike Trivisonno remembered for his charity work

74-year-old Trivisonno raised millions of dollars and distributed hundreds of thousands of coats over decades - not just through his radio show, but through a genuine desire to see that every child stays warm each winter.

"I’ve never felt more love in my heart than to watch a kid get a coat. Triv would say that every child deserves that, no matter what their circumstance," says Arnold.

From now through the end of the year, you can donate new or gently used winter coats anywhere you see Coats for Kids bins, namely for kids in Kindergarten thru 8th grade.

COATS FOR KIDS DONATION LOCATIONS: 

Crocker Park, Eton, Great Lakes, Great Northern, Legacy Village, South Park, Howard Hanna Real Estate offices, Petitti Garden Centers

OTHER WAYS TO DONATE:

  • Buy a paper coat for $1 at the checkout area of Discount Drug Mart locations between November 2 and November 30 and receive a coupon for $1 off Energizer batteries in return.
  • Saturday, November 20 is the 12th annual North Royalton High School football team’s Stuff the Bus for Coats for Kids event. This drive-thru event takes place from 9am–2pm at the Board of Education building at 6579 Royalton Rd. Coat and cash donations are welcome!
  • Cleveland/Akron/Canton Chick-fil-A restaurants will sell Cookies for a Cause/Cookies for Coats for Kids from Monday, November 15 through Saturday, December 11. Proceeds from every individual cookie and cookie six-pack sold will directly benefit Coats for Kids.
  • Magic of Lights runs at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds from Wednesday, November 24 through Sunday, January 2. Every Thursday is Coats for Kids Day, with a portion of all carload tickets used on Thursdays benefiting Coats for Kids. When you schedule your visit to Magic of Lights on a Thursday, you’ll avoid the long weekend lines and help raise money for Coats for Kids at the same time!
  • When you visit a northeast Ohio Mr. Hero location between now and April 2022, drop your spare change in the collection container at the register. All donations go directly to Coats for Kids.

For the latest information on the 2021 Coats for Kids campaign, visit coatsforkidscleveland.org.

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