OKC public schools combating cold this winter 

click to enlarge Last winter, OKCPS had to cancel school on six separate occasions because children without coats couldn’t walk to school or wait at bus stops in freezing weather. Many of the Oklahoma City students do not have coats for winter. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Last winter, OKCPS had to cancel school on six separate occasions because children without coats couldn’t walk to school or wait at bus stops in freezing weather. Many of the Oklahoma City students do not have coats for winter.

Picture a young boy, little Tommy, as he clutches his bare arms to his chest, wearing only a thin Spider-Man T-shirt, shivering on his way to school. The bitter winter wind whips past him, chilling the air to below-zero temperatures. His teeth chatter loudly, and his ears turn red with numbness.

A $20 winter coat could make a difference in Tommy’s life. Though Tommy is fictional, his story is real.

To combat the problem of a lack of winter coats, the Oklahoma City Public Schools District (OKCPS) is partnering with the nonprofit Operation Warm to raise funds to keep kids warm this winter. The result of this partnership is Coat-A-Kid, a grassroots initiative to provide new coats to an estimated 6,500 kids who go without them.

Last winter, OKCPS had to cancel school on six separate occasions because children without coats couldn’t walk to school or wait at bus stops in freezing weather.

About 35,676 OKCPS kids, or 89.5 percent, live at or below the poverty level, and their families often cannot provide them with warm coats. A family of four living on about $30,000 a year is living near the poverty level, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

To reach their $130,000 fundraising goal, OKCPS is promoting different fundraising levels. For $20, sponsors can “Coat-A-Kid,” and with a donation of $500, they can “Coat-A-Class.”

“My vision for this project is that through the community, we can spread the word ... that the community will wrap around our kids and just make this happen for them,” OKCPS Community Engagement Coordinator Kathryn Douglas said.

And that’s exactly what’s happening.

click to enlarge Oklahoma City Public Schools is partnering with Operation Warm to provide students with coats for winter. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools is partnering with Operation Warm to provide students with coats for winter.

Access Midstream Partners, L.P., a local natural gas services provider, donated $10,000 at the Coat-A- Community level, and other local businesses like American Energy Partners, LP; OnCue Express and the OKC branch of First National Bank of Oklahoma have made donations as well.

These contributions are adding up quickly for a total of $17,050 raised, which is enough money to put coats on 852 OKC children.

“What we hope by this is that with a new coat... [the kids] will really have a sense of self-esteem, joy and pride of wearing something new. These kids hardly ever receive anything new, and so we just hope that we can make their lives better,” Douglas said.

The Coat-A-Kid initiative has launched, and donations can be made through September 30. Sponsors can even choose to contribute to a specific OKC public school.

OKCPS plans to distribute the brand-new coats to children who have a need for them in early to mid-October. To set a fundraising goal, school principals made observations about the kids they saw coming to school cold and then added 10 percent to their estimations to account for new students or those overlooked.

While OKCPS appreciates all monetary donations made, they cannot take coat donations.

To learn more about Operation Warm or to donate to Coat-A-Kid, visit operationwarm.org/okcps.

Print headline:

Warmth for winter: Many kids in the Oklahoma City school district do not have coats for winter.

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Alissa Lindsey

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