LC Kiwanis Club’s Coats for Kids drive raised $23,000

Published 9:36 am Thursday, December 8, 2022

The Kiwanis Club of Lake Charles gathered an insurmountable amount of coats and raised $23,000 during this year’s Coats for Kids drive.

This year was the club’s 34th annual Coats for Kids drive. Each year, locals are encouraged to donate new or lightly used winter coats, which are then distributed to those in need. Last year, 2,500 coats were collected and $17,000 was raised. This year, with this 30 percent increase in collections, the club surpassed their goal to make this year’s drive bigger and better.

The $23,000 was distributed evenly between 10 local organizations that benefit the community with a focus on the unhoused and impoverished: Abraham’s Tent, Boys Village, CARC, Care Help of Sulphur, CPSB McKinney-Vento Center for Homeless Children, DeWanna’s Community Closet, ETC Harbour House, Oasis Women’s Shelter, Potter’s House and The Lord’s Place.

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Fundraising events like the Coats for Kids drive is imperative to ensure local volunteer organizations are supported. Reverend Leona Benoit, Potter’s House Representative, explained how they rely on local donations and fundraisers. “We’re not state or government funded … we work tirelessly, without a salary, to help meet the needs of the homeless in the community,” she said. “We’re supported by the newsletter and the community at large.”

Many of the organizations, such as Potter’s House, The Lord’s Place and Oasis Women’s Shelter, need more assistance than ever before, as they are still recovering from recent natural disasters.

“This year, it’s especially helpful because we are still displaced from the storms,” said Mandy Ashford of ETC Harbour House. “Any extra funds that we’re able to get through charity is helpful.”

“I’m gonna sound like a broken record, because we’re still displaced,” said Kathy Manuel, Executive Director of Oasis, expressing a similar situation.

DeWanna Tarver noted the unique collaborative resiliency that is found in SWLA community organizations. “These aren’t United Way and Red Cross, these are all local nonprofits,” she said. “One of the reasons that we as a group have survived is that we have found a niche that wasn’t being met and we work together.”

Randy Fuerst, Kiwanis Club member and attorney with Fuerst, Carrier and Ogden, personally donated an additional $700 to each organization after hearing their stories. He explained that he was inspired to provide additional funds after realizing his current circumstances are fortunate.

“My last 2 years have been incredibly good … so I’m going to add $700 dollars to each organization because I’ve been blessed by unfortunate situations, and I feel the need to give it back,” he said. “When you profit off of hardship, it’s just a terrible thing. You have to give it back.”

His donation brought each organization’s total donation amount to $3,000.

For the Kiwanis Club, this annual event is a cumulation of the many good works of SWLA citizens, despite adversity. “This gathering is such a wonderful reminder that in an economy that is very difficult, we live in a community that is extraordinarily generous,” said George Navarro, Kiwanis Club Member. “Our hearts are full.”