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Community Helps Students Stay Warm

Second and third graders at Neely-O'Brien Elementary School will be extra warm and cozy this year thanks to volunteers from the St. John the Baptist chapter of the Knights of Columbus.  

Lyn Johnson and his fellow volunteers have been helping Kent students stay warm by fundraising and donating coats and hats for the past five years. This year, they partnered with Communities in Schools of Kent to distribute almost 300 coats and 180 hats to second and third grade students at Neely-O'Brien. 

“It was amazing to see the looks on student’s faces as they picked their coats and hats,” said Pat Fredell, the Communities in Schools Site Coordinator for Neely-O'Brien. “What made this event all the more special was that ALL the second graders received coats. Many times students don’t want to be singled out for needing clothing or supplies. What the Knights of Columbus have done with this program is to ensure those who need a warm coat can get one without any stigma attached. I am so happy we at Communities In Schools of Kent could play a part in such a meaningful event.” 

Class by class, students walked into a hallway lined with tables of coats and volunteers helped them find one that fit just right.  

“I like this one because it’s blue,” one second grade student wearing a blue shirt and shoes exclaimed. “It’s my favorite!” 

After selecting a coat, students continued to a table covered with colorful knit hats.  

“What colors do you like?” Volunteer Betty DeWolfe asked from the other side of the table.  

“Who makes these?” a student wonders with wide eyes.  

“It takes me about 5 hours to knit one and friends and other volunteers donate the yarn,” she explained.  

This year, Betty knit more than 180 hats for students, and she’s been doing this for the past five years. After they chose a hat, a few students pull their hat over their eyes and Betty laughs. 

“I love doing this,” she said. “They’re made with love and for a good cause, I'm happy to do my part.” 

The students line up to go back to class, but they’re not just wearing new coats and hats, they also have bright smiles on their faces.

Need Warm Clothing or A Holiday Meal?

Many are predicting this winter will bring extra snow and cold weather to our region, and with that come extra challenges for many of our families. From helping with electricity bills and warm clothes to holiday meals, there are resources available to help our students and families stay warm and safe this season.