More than 1,000 winter coats donated for Norwich children
Ryan Blessing email@example.com, (860) 425-4205 rblessingNB
NORWICH — Olde Tymes owner Rodney Green marveled at how much the Rotary Club of Norwich's annual children's coat drive, which he's operated for the last several years out of his well-known West Main Street restaurant, has grown.
What started with Green and his wife, Lucille, giving about 300 new winter coats to area children in 2011 has since blossomed into an operation that, this year, will provide 1,100.
"This year wound up being just about 1,100 coats, and this is the last of them," Green said Tuesday morning at Bishop School as he delivered several cardboard boxes filled with the last of those 1,100 coats to school nurse Sharlene Cedrone.
"It really is a big help for the school," Cedrone said as she opened one of the boxes, which contained colorful new coats still folded and wrapped in plastic bags. "The kids we have here are 3 and 4 years old, the little ones."
Coats were available Tuesday for the 190 students at the Bishop School, plus another 62 at the Case Street satellite location, Cedrone said. Each one is labeled individually for a student by his or her name, and these are new coats, Green said.
"We are very appreciative as always of Rotary's efforts," Norwich Public Schools Superintendent Abby Dolliver said. "Their efforts make a difference for our students and families. This longstanding coat drive is one of the wonderful ways that Rotary reaches out to our community."
It's not just the city's schools that are getting the jackets. The St. Vincent DePaul Place meal site received 426, Green said.
"Then we have United Community Family Services, Madonna Place family program, we work with Catholic Charities, St. Patrick's Integrated Day Charter School," he said.
The Rotary raised $18,000 to buy the coats, which come mainly from two sources: Burlington Coat Factory and Operation Warm, a nonprofit that provides coats for charitable donation. The remainder are bought from local sources, Green said.
In July, Green ordered and received 500 coats at what he called "extremely low prices" through a nonprofit foundation Burlington Coat Factory operates to provide coats for donations.
"We had stuff by Polo, stuff from Carter's, and they were $14.99 apiece, as long as you do it early enough in the season," he said.
Children from newborns to age 15 are able to get a coat, Green said. And most get them through donations to the area's social service agencies.
"The schools, as big as they are, account for less than 40 percent of the coats we do," he said.
Green begins the process in June by contacting the suppliers with an idea of how many coats he'll need. Once the coats are delivered, volunteers help unpack, sort and label them.
Distribution started on Oct. 19 this year, Green said.
Rotary expanded the reach of the coat drive by removing a 50-coat limit it had for the social service agencies, and by adding city schools into the mix.
"And through St. Vincent DePaul Place, which has a wide reach, we're providing coats to Griswold, Jewett City, Lisbon," Green said. "How many can we do? As far as I know, we don't have a limit."