YORK TWP. — A group of Buckeye High School students pushed, threw and squeezed about 100 32-gallon garbage bags into a U-Haul truck Monday morning until the kids could barely close the door.
The bags, which were going to Medina County Department of Job and Family Services, were filled with only half of the coats the students collected in the last month.
Buckeye’s Occupational Work Experience school-to-work program just completed its sixth annual Coats for Kids drive. Buckeye’s Vocational coordinator Phil Bova said the group collected 350 coats during its first drive in 2004, but that number has been climbing steadily ever since. The count this year reached just more than 5,125.
“I wasn’t really expecting so many coats. I was just hoping to break (last year’s record of 4,035 coats), but we did a lot more than that,” said senior Gary Brown, who co-chaired the drive this year. “I’m just so happy there will be so many coats to give to the kids.”
Students, staff and faculty throughout the Buckeye district contributed coats last month. The schools made a competition out of the drive in which the homerooms with the most collected will be honored and receive a breakfast at a ceremony Friday.
Businesses and community organizations also contributed to the drive with donations, by providing volunteers to help the kids count coats and by setting up collection points.
For the first time, the coats will be going to children in Medina County as well as throughout Northeast Ohio. All the items collected in years past went to Coats for Kids Cleveland, which distributes coats to needy children throughout Northeast Ohio.
However, Bova said he wanted to work with Job and Family Services and to give half of what’s collected this year to Medina County children.
“This is crazy. This is just overwhelming,” Kim Soboslai, human resources administrator for Job and Family Services, said as the Occupational Work Experience students loaded the U-Haul. The approximately 2,500 coats given to the Job and Family Services are almost triple the 900 coats they gave out to families in need this year.
She said the coats received from the Occupational Work Experience kids will be sorted, cleaned and distributed to families throughout the year.
Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.