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Coats for Kids gets boost from eager young students

WATCH ABOVE: With temperatures dropping to -30°C some day, one thing is a must here in Edmonton:  warm winter clothing. Sadly, thousands of people in our city don’t have that much needed gear. As Erin Chalmers explains, in the last few years some young students have stepped up to fix that problem. 

EDMONTON – For most students recess is the best part of the school day – rain, snow or shine. But for children who do not have warm winter clothing, going outside can be a miserable experience. That’s why a local effort to try and equip more disadvantaged families with cold weather gear is underway at a west Edmonton school.

For the past three years, Mr. Bell’s grade one class at Crestwood School has been doing what it can to help support the United Way’s annual Coats For Kids and Families campaign.

“Being as cold as it can get here in Edmonton, it just breaks my heart knowing that there are kids this age in our city that don’t have warm things to wear in the winter time,” said teacher Brennan Bell.

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Being six and seven years old, Bell said the students sometimes don’t understand how good they have it.  He explains poverty to the kids by putting it on a level they can comprehend.

“These guys, they forget often to put on their mitts and their toques and after 15 minutes they know how cold it is out there. So I try to tell them,’ imagine that every recess’,” said Bell.

“They were a little shocked… but they’re more happy to help out than they are to be upset about it. They instantly want to know what they can do to help,” he added.

“I want to help kids so they would stay warm,” said six-year-old student Emily Shaw. “I feel happy doing this.”

Grade 1 students at Crestwood School in Edmonton. The class is collecting used winter wear for the United Way's Coats for Kids and Families campaign.  Thursday, November 20, 2014.
Grade 1 students at Crestwood School in Edmonton. The class is collecting used winter wear for the United Way's Coats for Kids and Families campaign. Thursday, November 20, 2014. Global News
Grade 1 students at Crestwood School in Edmonton. The class is collecting used winter wear for the United Way's Coats for Kids and Families campaign. Thursday, November 20, 2014.
Grade 1 students at Crestwood School in Edmonton. The class is collecting used winter wear for the United Way's Coats for Kids and Families campaign. Thursday, November 20, 2014. Global News
Piles of coats collected by Grade 1 students at Crestwood Elementary. Thursday, November 20, 2014.
Piles of coats collected by Grade 1 students at Crestwood Elementary. Thursday, November 20, 2014. Global News

The class has attended the media kick off for the past few years. This year students went to an Oil Kings game, where they handed out pamphlets and were recoginized for their efforts during the game.

Students also collected old and unwanted coats, hats, mitts and other winter gear from other classes at school. Bell’s own children are in kindergarten and grade three. The idea of them – or any of his students – being cold in the winter motivates him.

“I can’t imagine being in a school where the majority of your kids don’t have warm stuff to wear outside,” said Bell.

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The United Way’s Coats for Kids and Families campaign runs until December 15, however the organization accepts winter wear year-round. All donated items are cleaned by Page the Cleaner before being given to someone in need.

If you are in need of a coat or other winter wear, a list can be found here. For more information on the campaign, visit the United Way’s website.

WATCH:  Jenn Dermott with The United Way and Jim Maurais from Page The Cleaner visited the Morning News to talk about how Edmontonians can help.

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