Kiwanis Club collects more than 1,300 coats

Just in time for the burst of cooler weather this week, the Kiwanis Club of Lake Charles donated more than 1,300 coats Thursday to nine local agencies, as part of its annual Coats for Kids program.

Standing outside Abraham’s Tent, Steve Ek with the Kiwanis Club said, "The great thing, the truly heartwarming thing, especially at this time of the year is that these coats are totally free to those who need them."

Ek said people donate coats throughout the year and the Kiwanis Club then teams up with AAA Drive-in Cleaners to have the coats cleaned before they go out to local charities so they can get them to children.

The coat drive has mostly been a school-based program the past 30 years, but donation boxes have also recently been set up at Cheniere LNG and McNeese State University.

Robert Guilott, owner of AAA Drive-in Cleaners, stood with Ek as the two looked over all of the coats before donating a batch of about 200 to Abraham’s Tent.

"This is something that is so needed in our community," Guilott said. "It’s something that I’m very happy to participate in. I’m just glad that we are able to do something like this, especially with the colder weather here now and knowing that so many kids really need coats."

Several racks held coats of all colors and sizes, from tiny pink coats with fur trim to teen-sized camouflage jackets.

Ek said in addition to the donation left at Abraham’s Tent, coats were also going to be delivered to Potter’s House, The Lord’s Place, Oasis Women’s Shelter, Solomon’s Porch, Boy’s Village, Care Help of Sulphur, the Calcasieu Parish School Board, and DeWanna’s Community Closet.

Pearl Cole, executive director of Abraham’s Tent, watched as helpers brought coats into the center and said the donation was "so needed and very much appreciated."

"Once people come here, and if we don’t have what they need in the way of coats or jackets, it’s hard for them to go somewhere else and get it if they don’t have transportation," Cole said. "This is a great day and I’m very happy and grateful for this wonderful donation. I can tell you that these coats will be going directly to children in our community who need them the most."