When Chicago’s weather turns frightful this winter, students at Marcus Moziah Garvey Elementary School, 10309 S. Morgan St., along with 10 other schools, will be a bit warmer thanks to the generosity of Chicago Public Schools and Wells Fargo through its Coats For Kids campaign.
Over a week’s time, approximately 10,000 coats will be distributed to CPS students in partnership with Operation Warm– a nonprofit organization focused on improving the lives of children through the gift of new winter coats. This year marks the eighth year in which the coat giveaway was held.
Forrest Claypool, Chicago Public Schools CEO, said the coat giveaway was needed as temperatures begin to cool. He said the effort has grown from one school to 11 with the expectation that it will continue to grow larger.
“It’s always great because the kids are so amazing,” said Claypool. “It’s always fun to come out with Wells Fargo and see the kids get new coats just in time for the winter and the looks on their faces.”
Carter Wellford, a spokesman for Wells Fargo, said this year’s event will be the biggest yet as 10,000 coats will be given away. He said the schools were selected in conjunction with CPS officials. He said the number of coats is determined by the amount of money that can be raised, which this year totaled to $200,000.
“The genesis for this is that Wells Fargo believes in supporting where customers and team members live,” said Wellford. “Those communities are only as strong as the children who will power their future. You need to get back and forth from school safely and that’s hard to do in Chicago when you don’t have a warm coat.”
Several Wells Fargo volunteers were on-hand to help distribute the coats throughout the day. Wellford said of the company’s 1,800 team members, 200 will find themselves at a CPS this year to help distribute the coats. Coats came in a variety of colors, patterns, sizes, and styles.
Sabrina Anderson, assistant principal at Marcus Garvey Elementary, said she was part of the coordination effort to bring the coat giveaway to the school. She said she was “excited” her son was chosen to take part. In addition to coats, gloves, scarves, and hats are needed during the winter months as most of her students walk to school each day.
“Many of our students need coats so this is one less thing our parents need to worry about,” said Anderson. “The kids are excited; they’re glad to have the opportunity to get a brand new winter coat.”
Anderson, who has worked at Marcus Garvey Elementary for 12 years, said the school offers children their choice of a free hot or cold breakfast throughout the winter. She said her building educates students from pre-K through 8th grade with age ranges from 3-14 years old.
Parents along with well-wishers from the community were on-hand to lend a hand to the volunteers.
Tiffany Jones, whose son is a third grader at Marcus Garvey Elementary, called the event positive and stressed how it lends itself to changing the conversation about the community from negative to positive. She said this was the first time she heard of the Wells Fargo program.
“I think this is pretty good; a lot of kids come to school with no coats on so I definitely think this is going to benefit all of the kids in the neighborhood,” said Jones.