South Lake Tahoe Fire Department’s Coats for Kids drive a success
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — In its first year, the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department is calling the inaugural Coats for Kids Clothing Drive a success.
“I was really surprised and thrilled by the response from the community,” event organizer and department fire engineer/medic Kim George said. “The community has such a heart.”
According to George, donations exceeded expectations. The department received more than 120 coats during the month-long drive. While the collection was intended for lightly used youth coats, donations also included some brand new items as well as gloves, boots and other apparel.
“This is a really good thing and we are grateful to know we helped the youth of our community,” she said.
Donated coats were distributed among local charities. Child Protective Services received six jackets for specific children in need. Choices for Children received 50 coats and the remainder went to Tahoe Youth and Family Services.
The idea started with George and her fellow department members when they were out on a call around Christmas.
“Our firefighters are out there on a regular basis,” fire chief Jeff Meston said, describing the inspiration for the drive. “It became obvious that there are some folks out there with needs.”
Meston and George both said they regularly see under-dressed youth around the community.
“I think it worked out great that it was after Christmas,” George said of the volume of donations, which she credited to families replacing older apparel.
The department already plans to run the drive again next winter.
“It came together really well,” Meston said. “Kudos to Kim George for putting it all together, and the community support was fantastic.”
He added, “I think this will be an annual event for us. It’s certainly a need in the community.”
George said that next winter they may coordinate with the Kiwanis Club of Lake Tahoe, which runs a different coat drive at the beginning of winter. She’s also open to other charity partnerships.
“It was a learning experience,” George said of their first drive, which was put together on short notice.
“We’ll put a little more effort into it next year,” Meston said. “It’ll only get better.”