Clothing giveaway provides students with winter outerwear |

Clothing giveaway provides students with winter outerwear

Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily TribuneJessica Monette, 6, a first-grader at Sierra House Elementary School, tries on a pair of snowpants Monday provided through the Martin Luther King Clothing Giveaway organized by Lake Tahoe Community College.

Seven-year-old Hunter Smith is excitedly looking forward to this winter’s snow. When asked what the first thing he’d do when the snow sticks, the Sierra House Elementary student said he “can’t wait to make a snowball.”

Hunter now has a new black snow outfit – black is his favorite color – with a red hat so people can find him more easily outdoors, he said.

Another Sierra House student, 6-year-old Jessica Monette, has a new coat, pants, gloves, hat and boots to wear when temperatures drop, all in her favorite color – pink.

The new winter clothing comes courtesy of the Martin Luther King Clothing Giveaway. The program provided coats, hats, snowpants, boots and gloves to more than 400 children at the South Shore who can’t afford winter clothes.

Children can’t participate in outdoor recess if they do not have the appropriate winter gear to play outside, said Melonie Guttry, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Community College Foundation. The giveaway is organized by the college.

“Any kid in Tahoe who doesn’t have a coat is a bad combination,” said Mark Lucksinger, immediate past president of the South Lake Tahoe Rotary Club, which also is involved in the program.

Lucksigner said kids need to be able to enjoy the outdoors and recess.

To determine who needs what, teachers draw up a list of which students need certain winter items, then the volunteers travel to the schools and fit kids with what they need.

“I tell them they’re going Christmas shopping early,” Guttry said.

Donations came from Hanna Andersson, a Portland, Ore.-based clothing company that donated 400 coats and 400 pairs of snowpants. The South Lake Tahoe Rotary Club gave $3,000 to the cause, and the Tahoe Douglas Rotary Club gave $1,500. House of Ski and Powder House made contributions, too.

The program started seven years ago as way to teach college students the importance of civic responsibility, Guttry said.

Nicole Stimac, a member of the LTCC Student Council, said it’s good to have college students help out, because it plants the seed in elementary students’ heads to think about attending college.

Stimac said she’s happy to help out, because sometimes she has needed a helping hand. As a low-income single mom, she said the generosity the community has shown her and her son is overwhelming, so she wanted to give back to others.

The group traveled to the school most in need first, which was Bijou Community School on Nov. 15. So far, Zephyr Cove Elementary, Kingsbury Middle School, Sierra House Elementary and Tahoe Valley Elementary students have received winter clothes from the organization.

Today, the group will travel to South Tahoe Middle School and the Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School to finish up the project.

Even though Martin Luther King Day isn’t until January, Guttry said the giveaway is in the spirit of the holiday but is scheduled to occur about the time cold weather begins.

“It gives me a whole renewed feeling for Thanksgiving,” Guttry said.

All the leftover clothes will be stored until next year, unless the teachers call and inform the foundation of more students who need gear. Then the group will deliver the needed items to the schools.

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