Thank you for supporting Koats for Kids, Winnipeg!

The Koats for Kids program has wrapped-up for another season!

This year more than 6000 donated coats and thousands of hats, mitts, scarves and boots were distributed in the community to people in need. It’s an incredible display of warmth and generosity by thousands of Winnipeggers!

Grades 5 & 6 students at Sister MacNamara School helped kick off the Koats for Kids program last September.

Grades 5 & 6 students at Sister MacNamara School helped kick off the Koats for Kids program last September.

We want to thank the many children and school groups that organized collection drives. Making sure your classmates and other children can be warm is a wonderful expression of what being part of a caring and compassionate community is.

And a special thank you to past and new supporters from the business community that have made significant contributions to Koats for Kids this year.

Volunteers are essential to Koats’ success, and this year more than 400 volunteers contributed over 1,500 hours helping sort, clean, mend and deliver donations. Thank you!

Koats for Kids volunteers hard at work.

Koats for Kids volunteers hard at work.

One in five Winnipeg kids under 18 live in poverty, and that rate is even higher for younger kids. It is essential to provide access to warm winter gear for all children so they can go to school and play outside with their friends without risk to their health.

Since 1989, Koats for Kids has collected and distributed more than 178,000 items to Winnipeg infants, children and youth. Without the generosity each year of thousands of Winnipeggers it would not be possible. Thank you all so much.

Koats will begin accepting donations again in the fall of 2016.

Thank you to our partners:

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Carbone fires-up more mitts for kids!

A $5 donation buys a pair of quality leather mitts through Valentine’s Day.

Carbone Coal Fired Pizza is again helping keep little hands warm in Winnipeg’s frigid weather.

Last year they were able to purchase 350 pairs of leather mitts for Koats for Kids after a mitt drive at their two locations let staff and customers purchase a pair of mitts for $5.

The generosity is back, and co-owners Joe Paletta and Benjamin Nasberg think it will surpass last year.

“We are going to crush last year,” said Benjamin.

For every $5 donation made thru Valentine’s Day at Carbone’s St. Mary Avenue or Taylor Avenue locations a pair of quality leather mitts from Richlu Manufacturing will be purchased for Koats for Kids. Richlu is providing the mitts at a generous discount to help the cause.

Carbone co-owners Benjamin Nasberg, left, and Joe Paletta hold up cards donors buying mitts for kids can add their names to.

Carbone co-owners Benjamin Nasberg, left, and Joe Paletta hold up cards donors buying mitts for kids can add their names to.

Donors can also write their names on a card for display in the restaurants.

Joe says the response has been great since they started the donation drive in January.

“Everyone can relate to being cold.”

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Carbone is also issuing a challenge to businesses and organizations: donate $200 to their Koats for Kids mitt drive and they will deliver some pizzas to you!

A Facebook photo shows Carbone delivering pizza to Downtown Winnipeg Biz to thank them for a $200 donation.

A Facebook photo shows Carbone delivering pizza to Downtown Winnipeg Biz to thank them for a $200 donation.

 

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.

Buy Rite helps out Koats for Kids.

A generous donation helps Koats for Kids keep doing its work!

Koats for Kids manager Donna Albak is sitting pretty after a generous donation of office furniture has improved the comfort, efficiency, and lighting of her workspace.

“It’s been so nice. The chairs are wonderful, and the drawers give us so much space,” Donna said.

Moe Salaam and Koats for Kids manager Donna Albak in the new office workspace.

Moe Salaam and Koats for Kids manager Donna Albak in the new office workspace.

Donna met with Moe Salaam, CEO of Buy Rite Business Furnishings, on Thursday to thank him for the donation of two new L-shaped workspaces with chairs, lighted hutch, file credenza and a divider wall.

She presented him with a keepsake box with two knitted mittens shaped into a heart on a thank you certificate.

Moe takes a look at the thank you shadowbox presented to him by Donna.

Moe takes a look at the thank you shadowbox presented to him by Donna.

“We’ve been lucky. The community has been good to us, so we wanted to give back,” Moe said.

Moe didn’t hesitate when he found out Koats needed to update its office area.

“I said ‘yes, I know Koats for Kids, and if we can do something to help I’m happy to.’”

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United Way’s Koats for Kids has collected and distributed more than 178,000 items of winter outerwear to children in need since opening its doors in 1989.

Learn more about Koats – including how to donate and how to place an order – at unitedwaywinnipeg.ca/impact/koats-for-kids

Sobeys generous with mitts for Koats for Kids!

Sobeys was inspired by Carbone Coal Fired Pizza to put mitts on kids!

It’s a wonderful thing when generosity inspires generosity.

When Sobeys Kildonan manager Scott Innes was looking for a way to give back, he looked on United Way Winnipeg’s website.

There he found the story about Carbone Coal Fired Pizza raising money to purchase hockey mitts for United Way’s Koats for Kids program.

Carbone Coal Fired Pizza managing partner Benjamin Nasberg, Donna Albak, program manager for Koats for Kids, Michael Nugent, and chef and managing partner Joe Paletta with their Koats donation last February.

Carbone Coal Fired Pizza managing partner Benjamin Nasberg, Donna Albak, program manager for Koats for Kids, Michael Nugent, and chef and managing partner Joe Paletta with Carbone’s Koats donation last February.

Scott says the idea of helping provide children with winter gear through Koats for Kids inspired him.

“I have two young kids, and I can’t imagine them going without mitts or having to go to school without a jacket.”

Scott sourced hockey mitts from Richlu Manufacturing – the same company that supplied Carbone – where they gave him a good price to help the cause.

Then last month the store ran a 3-day campaign for staff and customers. For a $5 donation people could write their names on coloured paper mittens cut out by Jennifer Downey, the Engagement Champion at Sobeys Kildonan. The paper mittens were then strung onto yarn to adorn a Christmas tree displaying the generous donors.

The Christmas tree with little paper mitts displayed names of generous donors.

The Christmas tree with little paper mitts displayed names of generous donors.

In total they raised enough to purchase 254 pairs of hockey mitts.

“They’re so generous in this area, anytime we do something” Scott said of his customers.

“I think that’s fabulous.”

Sobeys Engagement Champion Jennifer Downey (from left), Assistant Manager Rex Quilapio, United Way Community Involvement Associate Mariah Baldwin, and Manager Scott Innes with 254 pairs of hockey mitts destined to keep kids hands warm.

Sobeys Engagement Champion Jennifer Downey (from left), Assistant Manager Rex Quilapio, United Way Community Involvement Associate Mariah Baldwin, and Manager Scott Innes with 254 pairs of hockey mitts destined to keep kids hands warm.

Every year Koats for Kids collects, cleans, and distributes over 6,000 coats and 22,000 additional pieces of winter outerwear, and it wouldn’t be possible without donations from the community.

Scott is already hatching plans for a future Koats fundraiser – one with some added excitement.

“Next year we’re going to have a little friendly competition with (Carbone Coal Fired Pizza)…I haven’t talked to them about it yet though.”