GenNext warms 1630 little toes with a Drive-thru Boot Drive.

GenNext Drive-thru Boot Drive warms hearts and toes.

Winnipeg showed it cares about kids on Wednesday as dozens of people drove up to the GenNext Drive-thru Boot Drive to support Koats for Kids.

163 pairs of boots were donated—keeping 1630 little toes warm in WInnipeg’s frigid winter. Nearly $300 was donated through the drive-thru.

Donors dropped off boots and cash donations at United Way throughout the early morning. In return they got a sticky bun and coffee generously donated by Jonnies Sticky Buns and Grace Cafe.

Kerry LeBlanc brought in four pairs of gently-used boots. He said it was an opportunity to teach his children about giving.

“To realize how fortunate most of us are as Canadians. I have three kids at home who want for nothing, so I was like, ‘guys, come on, we can give back.’”

Dwayne Marling said he saw the event on Facebook, and also heard about it from GenNext Council Vice Chair Jane Helbrecht. Jane spoke to CBC about the drive earlier this week.

Dwayne Marling said knowing some families struggle to get winter boots was a motivation for him.

Dwayne Marling said knowing some families struggle to get winter boots was a motivation for him.

“We have a nine-year-old at home,” Dwayne said after dropping off several pairs of boys boots.

“For him, he doesn’t have to worry about keeping his toes warm, but others do.”

Dwayne smiling with his Jonnies Sticky Bun and Grace Cafe coffee.

Dwayne smiling with his Jonnies Sticky Bun and Grace Cafe coffee.

GenNext – the United Way program that provides opportunities for passionate young Winnipeggers to engage in social change within our philanthropic community – organized the boot drive to support United Way’s Koats for Kids program. Volunteers from United Way’s Youth United program also helped out.

GenNext Council member Lana Bakun, who worked the drive-thru collecting boots and handing out coffee and sticky buns, said she joined GenNext so she could help “build a stronger community.”

“I think everybody has the ability to help out in some way,” Lana said.

GenNext Council members Lana Bakun and Deanna Dowd adding to the boot bounty.

GenNext Council members Lana Bakun and Deanna Dowd adding to the boot bounty.

Deanna Dowd, co-chair of the Marketing & Communcations committee on the GenNext Council, had a smile on her face all morning as the pile of boots grew inside United Way’s atrium.

“People have been really generous,” Deanna said.

“Winnipeg weather can be bitterly cold, especially for the little ones.”

Deanna said she joined GenNext because she wanted to volunteer more. Besides learning about and helping Winnipeg’s non-profit community, GenNext gives her the chance to connect and network while building her career and resume, she said.

“It’s fun – we host a variety of events like mixers and other networking opportunities, and it’s also a funnel to the United Way and the agencies it supports.”

If you missed the Wednesday morning boot drive you can still drop off new or gently-used winter boots or make a cash donation for Koats for Kids at United Way this week.

United Way GenNext manager Dan Robinson and GenNext Council member Amanpreet Sidhu doing a boot-iful job on Main Street.

United Way GenNext manager Dan Robinson and GenNext Council member Amanpreet Sidhu doing a boot-iful job on Main Street.

Give the boot to cold toes on little tykes!

January 13, 2016, 7 to 9:30 a.m. — drop off new or gently used winter boots for Winnipeg tykes!

Free coffee from Grace Cafe, Jonnies Sticky buns and warm fuzzies! Download a poster now to put up in your office & spread the word!

GenNext Boot Drive January 13, 2016.

United Way’s GenNext is hosting a Drive-Thru Boot Drive, and needs your help to keep children safe & warm this winter. Help us provide children with the critical cold-weather footwear required for safe outdoor play and travel in the winter.

Rally your colleagues, teammates, friends or family to organize a collection drive at your workplace, family gathering, or sporting event. You can then personally drop them off at our improvised “drive through,” (in our back parking lot) and be pampered with some delish Jonnies Sticky buns and a warm cup of coffee.

Enter the United Way parking lot at the Main St. and Alexander Ave. entrance:

Volunteers will gather the boots and off you go in comfort! Gift cards or cash donations are welcomed.

“Why boots?” you may ask…

Families living in poverty are often unable to purchase winter boots for their children. And kids grow fast!

This means sometimes children are unable to participate in outdoor recreation activities in the winter months, or safely walk to school.

“We feel this is a need for kids in our community and a way for GenNext to make a difference. We want kids to be able to walk to school through snow on the coldest day of the year knowing they have the footwear to get them there,” said Jane Helbrecht, Vice-Chair of United Way’s GenNext Council.

“Winter boot donations also give kids the equipment and confidence to get outside and play with their friends and enjoy winter activities.  We hope Winnipeggers will come together on January 13 to help kids be all they can be this winter! It’s something so simple, yet so meaningful.”

The boots collected will be distributed to Koats for Kids and through our neighbourhood resource centres in Winnipeg.

Please email Dan if you have any questions!