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Wichita Center's Coats for Kids aims to keep children warm

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Sharron Bryan found it “unfathomable that tens of thousands of children don’t have the basics to keep them warm,” so she decided to do something about it.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Volunteer Joan Verry, from left, Danielle Schneider, administrative assistant, volunteer Sharon Newell and Katy Henkle, intern, unpack coats at the Wichita Center for Family & Community. The free coats were handed out on Oct. 20 as part of the Coats for Kids program.Last year the Clackamas County resident established the Coats for Kids program, “fueled by a mission to bring new coats to disadvantaged children before the cold weather sets in. The program is especially aimed at assisting those children from families struggling with food insecurities and homelessness,” she said.

In 2015 she worked with a Multnomah County Kiwanis Club to provide coats to children in schools in that county, but this year she has brought the program closer to home.

“With over 20,000 children in Clackamas County known to be living in poverty, there is a critical need for warm winter coats,” Bryan said.

She can’t meet the need alone, however, and so Bryan has teamed up with the North Clackamas School District to identify at-risk students and is hoping for donations from the community to buy new coats.

“I believe it is a need that can be filled and, in the process, make a tangible difference in the lives of our children,” Bryan said.

Before school began, residents of Rose Villa and local business owners came up with enough money for her to buy 60 new coats. They were distributed through the Wichita Center for Family & Community on Oct. 20.

There is still a need for more winter coats though, so Bryan is initiating a second call for donations. People can email her for more information at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or send money to Operation Warm, c/o S. Bryan, P.O. Box 2961, Clackamas, OR 97015.

Operation Warm

Operation Warm is the financial sponsor for Bryan’s Coats for Kids program. It is a national organization founded in 1998. It began one cold winter day when Dick Sanford was driving in his hometown of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and spotted a group of children without coats.

He saw that at-risk children in his community had a need for warm coats, and now the organization has gone nationwide, Bryan said.

Operation Warm manufactures the coats, which “are beautifully made in three different styles and 18 color combinations, so they are all different,” she said.

It is important to her that nobody will point at one of the garments and say “there’s one of the free coats.”

What sets this program apart from other coat drives, Bryan said, “is that we provide new coats, and they are available from mid-September through October before the cold season arrives, as opposed to traditional drives that distribute new and nearly new coats around Christmas.”

She hopes that the community will rally to support Coats for Kids because the cycle of poverty can’t be broken if “we can’t keep our children in school and healthy.”

Bryan added, “A new coat with their name in it might be the first new thing these children have ever had. It will boost their self-esteem and add to general wellness and peer acceptance.”

Coats for Kids

Help provide new coats for disadvantaged children by sending a donation of any dollar amount to: Operation Warm, c/o S. Bryan, P.O. Box 2961, Clackamas, OR 97015.

Send an email to Sharron Bryan, founder of Coats for Kids, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information about Operation Warm, visit operationwarm.org.

All donations are tax-deductible.