Jackson column: You’ll get a warm, fuzzy feeling when you give to Coats for Kids

Worthy causes abound, with a multitude of requests for charitable giving regularly flooding our mailboxes. Even so, I would like to suggest one that is undeniably worthy and, significantly, geared to our county’s youngsters. It’s called Coats for Kids and is being jointly sponsored by the Prescott Noon Lions Club, the Knights of Columbus of Prescott’s Sacred Heart Church and Mandalay Homes of Prescott.

Steve Schmidt, a member of both the Noon Lions and Knights of Columbus, describes the pressing need thusly:

“During the cold winter months in Yavapai County, many children suffer with the uncompromising weather without sufficient warmth. It is an established fact that sick days for children in the elementary schools are significantly higher in the school months from November through February. The school nurse maintains that the cold and flu season is at its peak during this time. Chronic absenteeism – missing more than 10 percent of school a year – occurs at rates three to four times higher in high poverty areas, according to a study of six states conducted by Johns Hopkins University in May of last year. And a high rate of illness is a major reason for absenteeism.”

The campaign to favorably impact children’s health, initiated by the aforementioned entities, also received help from the following: Walmart, which has contributed funds and also discounted 100 coats that have been purchased to date; Chase Bank, with 13 branches in the Yavapai School District and other select participating branches, is encouraging its employees to contribute; and Costco has contributed monetarily to the cause.

Tim Carter, superintendent of Yavapai Schools, is helping to guide the project, which is a response to what he describes as a “tremendous need in our schools to provide coats for its at-risk students.”

Schmidt, the coordinator of the project, said, “A grant has also been completed with a major corporate sponsor to fund the purchase of a goal of 600 new coats to be distributed by school nurses next September. The nurses will assess those children who have the greatest need, and the schools with a 70 percent or greater FRL (free or reduced lunch) rate will be prime recipients of these coats. By applying this rate, there are approximately 4,800 children who will be eligible for coats out of an enrollment of 16,000 elementary school age children. Also, at a place to be determined, bins will be made available to collect used coats, which will supplement the purchase of new ones. These bins will be available for coat collection at the end of July.”

Schmidt also pointed out that, to continue the program on an annual basis, funds will be accepted from local merchants, individuals and corporations. Checks, he said, “can be made payable to Prescott Noon Lions Foundation, P.O. Box 2215, Prescott, AZ 86302, with ‘Coats for Kids’ in the memo space.”

Contributions are tax-deductible, he noted, adding, “We will also be asking the recipients who have outgrown their coats to donate them back to benefit more children in the future.”

In outlining the motivation for the sponsoring organizations, Schmidt noted that “the Prescott Noon Lions is a 501 (C) (3) nonprofit, and its members continue our 69-year tradition of voluntarily performing activities in Prescott and Yavapai County that benefit local organizations and charities. The Knights of Columbus of Sacred Heart Church is a Catholic organization that raises funds for charitable causes. And Mandalay Homes is an environmentally-conscious production home builder with a focus on health, comfort, and energy efficiency within every home.”

For questions about the Coats for Kids project, call Schmidt at 928-227-2938.

Readers may also contact the columnist at editorial@prescottaz.com.