Young girls volunteer at the new Coats for Kids event (and get to choose a coat to take home, too!).

Young girls volunteer at the new Coats for Kids event (and get to choose a coat to take home, too!).

With snow back in the forecast, we’re reminded of how important is to make sure that our children are prepared for cold weather, no matter what time of year it is. Every fall they appear at bus stops, shivering in hooded sweatshirts and light jackets never meant for cold weather. Children prepared for school, but not for falling temperatures. That’s why across Indiana The Salvation Army works with struggling families to ensure that children have warm winter coats, hats and gloves to keep them safe and healthy, no matter what Mother Nature throws our way.

Warm Coats bIn Benton County, Indiana, Christine Sheetz saw news coverage of the popular Coats for Kids event held in Indianapolis and decided to bring a similar program to families in need in her hometown. As The Salvation Army’s representative in the county, she was able to coordinate corporate sponsors, individual donors, and volunteers to help 130 local children have a warmer winter.

“They were elated,” Christine recalls, telling of the day when families came to pick up their new coats at the local Community Action office. “Some of the kids were so excited they couldn’t wait to put the coat on! They were so appreciative.”

Warm Coats aThe families who were helped were facing financial struggles and budgets that simply had no room for expensive winter gear. When the choice must be made between paying a heating bill and buying a new coat for a growing child, parents face a difficult, and often heart-wrenching, decision. Benton County’s new Coats for Kids program aims to ease this burden while helping kids feel more confident at school and enjoy playing outdoors on snowy days.

Warm Coats cChristine has big plans for this fall: “It’s going to grow, I just know it. There are so many more kids who could benefit from this program, and we’re going to try to help as many as we can.” With the aid of donors in Benton County and all over Indiana, The Salvation Army can keep growing programs like Coats for Kids in communities across the state.