In 2016, we again purchased 32 cases, a total of 384 coats, and as done in 2015, we ordered early and were able to get the coats out in late September. Supreme now lets us order in two size groups: normal and larger. We find that most of our "customers" need the larger sizes. They run out fastest.
The story below is from that of 2014; however, the steps involved and most of the people involved were the same through the years. We continue to do this, because kids always grow-up, wear out their coats, and more coats are needed.
(The story below is from the 2014 drive.)
Updated July 20, 2017.
Our council approved $7,500 for the “Coats for Kids” program, through Supreme. The need for winter coats is great, both in our town and in the surrounding area. Last year, we purchased 24 cases of coats to distribute. This year of 2014, we purchased 32 cases, each case holding 12 coats, for a total of 384 coats, split evenly between boys and girls, in various sizes and styles. With the cold weather approaching, GK Bill Richards approved the paperwork, and I sent the order to Supreme on Thursday, Oct 9.
I got a telephone call on Tuesday, Oct 28, that an 18-wheeler would be dropping off three pallets of stacked coat boxes at the end of my driveway on Wednesday, “between 2:00PM and 5:00PM.” Hurried emails to several Knights who had expressed an interest in helping previously were exchanged. Our troops were at the ready! At 3:00PM, the truck arrived and dropped the pallets. I immediately alerted “the A team;” Dick and Jean Collopy, Don and Linda Simmons, and my wife Peggy answered the call. We gathered at the foot of the driveway, and loaded up cars and trucks with the boxes and brought them up my driveway and into the garage. All the boxes were safely inside before the rains came. Next, we sorted out the boy coat cartons from the girl coat cartons, and “branded” each girl coat with a Knights of Columbus, Council 4442, Salem NH label on the coat tags. (We wanted the child to know where the coat came from! Maybe we would recruit a future Knight?). So much for Day One.
On Thursday, “Team 2” went into action. Alan Phair, Don Simmons, Dick and Jean Collopy played the “Coat style shuffle” game. (We don't want one charity to get a case of coats all the same style for their clients. That could cause some mean kids to say on the school playground, “Hey, that's one of those Knight's charity coats... you must be poor.”) There were 16 cases of boys coats, each case was a unique style. So we “shuffled” all the coats so that no case had two of the same style. I'd like to explain the algorithm, but it is too confusing; we had several false starts and re-sorts. Finally, all the girl coats were repacked into cartons and the boxes sealed up. Alan said, “That wasn't so bad.” But wait, “Sorry, Alan, that was just the girl coats; now we have the boy coats to unpack, brand, shuffle, and re-pack.” The job was done with a smile. At the end of the day, we had all 32 cases of coats marked with our KofC brand and ready to ship. The garage was full of coats!
On Friday, I made deliveries to Ruth's House in Haverhill (6 cases) and the Salem Town Welfare Office (4 cases.) The town office has a greater need, but they have limited space for the coats. With 10 cases gone, I was seeing light inside my garage. I made calls to “people with big trucks.” Michael Banks and Al Faucher were the ones who were available for Saturday morning. So “Team 3” came to my house, and we loaded up our three trucks with 20 cases and took them to the Salem Christmas Fund storage unit. Those coats will be given at the Salem Toy Distribution nights.
December 2015 note: after the Toy Distribution, there were about 8 cases left of various sizes. I gave a case of boys and a case of girls coats to the Soule, Fisk, and Lancaster Schools in Salem. The principals were all very appreciative. "There are always a few kids who can't go running around on outside recess on cold days. Your coats will help them out!"