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Westwood centre radiates winter warmth

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Koats for Kids staff (left to right) Donna Albek and Linda Holder, along with United Way community involvement manager Melissa Burgess.

PHOTO BY SHARON PFEIFER Enlarge Image

Koats for Kids staff (left to right) Donna Albek and Linda Holder, along with United Way community involvement manager Melissa Burgess. Photo Store

All across the city families are preparing for the harsh season ahead, and so is Koats for Kids.

You’ve probably heard of Koats for Kids. The local chapter, run by United Way Winnipeg, has been helping children survive prairie winters since 1989.

Did you know though, that its sorting/distribution centre is right here in Westwood?

Koats for Kids program manager Donna Albak says the program moved to its current location near the corner of Portage Avenue and Banting Drive in 2009, but she guesses most people in the neighbourhood don’t know it’s here.

The Koats Volunteer Centre at 3172 Portage Avenue (next to the Historical Museum of St. James-Assiniboia) is a humble place with a surprising amount of space, and it radiates warmth all across the city.

Staff and volunteers distributed some 7,000 coats requested by schools, daycares and support agencies in 2012. Since the current Koats season kicked off on Sept. 25, 100 requests have already been processed. All over Winnipeg, coats are being collected at Perth’s locations and Winnipeg Fire Paramedic stations. Once cleaned, thousands of items will arrive in Westwood to be sorted — it’s a big job.  

The United Way’s Day of Caring program brings volunteers from businesses into the centre, but there is always room for more. Got a group of friends looking for something to do over the winter? Want a team-building activity? Maybe you’d just like to help out in you spare time?
Whether you volunteer just once or every once in a while, Koats for Kids will be glad to have you. Call 204-586-5628, or email koats@UnitedWayWinnipeg.mb.ca for more information.  

Donations of gently used children’s winter clothing can be dropped off at fire stations or Perth’s outlets. If you know a child who needs a coat, talk to his or her school or daycare, or go to UnitedWayWinnipeg.ca/impact/Koats-for-Kids. Share the warmth!

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