Hundreds of Wapakoneta families should be able stay warm this winter thanks to a group of students dedicated to providing coats to children and adults in need.
“Coats for Kids” is a program provided by the Wapakoneta High School’s Octagon Club that collects community-donated coats to be distributed to struggling families throughout Wapakoneta.
Green barrels marked “Coats for Kids” will be set up throughout the community for people to donate new or gently used adult and children sized coats.
Sponsored by the Wapakoneta Breakfast Optimists, the Octagon Club has existed for 30 years as a means for students to make a difference in their community.
Students Molly Gibson and Jenna Stoner are co-chairs of the Coat Drive.
Octagon co-adviser Pam Lange, who organizes the club along with co-adviser Jackie Martell, said the Octagon Club raised more than 300 coats for local children and adults last year.
Donated coats are sent to God’s Storehouse and Mercy Unlimited to be distributed to families in need.
See COATS, Page 6A
Before the coats are sent out to be distributed, the club has the coats cleaned and checked for any broken zippers, missing buttons, or damaged in any way. The coats that are given to families are in good condition, Lange said.
“We really want the end recipient to feel the love and support from their community in their time of need,” Lange said.
Mercy Unlimited Food Pantry Manager Valerie Coffey said these new coats are appreciated by the parents and the children.
She said the coats are given away as people present with a need.
“When dollars are already tight and a child outgrows last year’s coat, it can be very distressing,” Coffey said, also noting that children’s old, worn out coats are inappropriate for cold weather conditions.
She said the donated coats enable parents to save money, and the children are happy and warm with their “like new” coats.
Coffey said Mercy Unlimited also has a stock of gloves, mittens, hats and scarves available for people to match their new coats.
“These new and homemade items come in throughout the year from people who know we will give them away along with the coats,” Coffey said.
She said Mercy Unlimited is grateful to the Octagon Club for sponsoring the event and would like to tell members how much the coats are appreciated.
Lange said the club’s mission is to help the community.
“We are a small community, and when our friends and neighbors are struggling, we want to be able to help them,” Lange said.
Lange said the Octagon Club also “adopts a family” to sponsor during the holiday season to provide food staples and Christmas gifts. The funds used to sponsor the family are raised through Octagon Club members cleaning the high school stadium after football games.
“They are an amazing group of students, whom this community should be very proud,” Lange said.
Anyone interested in donating a coat can find the donation barrels at Family Video, Community Market, Wapakoneta Family YMCA, Wapakoneta High School and Walmart.
Lange said the club is appreciative of the local businesses for supporting their mission and also the community members who have donated coats over the years.
“This drive is successful through the great generosity and support of our community,” Lange said.
Anyone interested in donating toward the “Adopt a Family” or scholarships the Octagon Club distributes throughout the year can contact Pam Lange at PO Box 105 in Wapakoneta.