Donated coats give warmth to hearts and bodies

Story by John Iwasaki / Photos by Chris Huber

When frigid weather grips New York, Keisha layers her children in clothing and makes sure they are covered from head to toe.

Keisha holds son Kemere after a coat distribution in the Bronx.

Keisha holds son Kemere after a coat distribution in the Bronx.

"It's really cold," she says. "You've got to bundle them up with a sweater — double the sweaters. You've got to have a hat, big boots. You need a coat."

Thanks to warm coats and sweaters donated by World Vision's corporate partners, her children are prepared for New York's wintry blasts.

The distribution took place at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Health Center in the Bronx, another World Vision partner.

"I'm so grateful for this," says Keisha as she picked coats for her children, who range in age from 14 years to seven months. "It allows me to buy other stuff for the kids that they need. They need boots and more hats."

The need also is great in West Virginia, where a coat distribution took place in the town of Junior.

In this case, the coats were donated by the Charlotte, North Carolina, chapter of Women of Vision, a group of women volunteers and donors who serve with World Vision and minister to those in need.

The women knew the sizes and genders of the coat recipients, making it "great fun to imagine the child as you look for the coat you feel will make the child warm and happy," Women of Vision member Bettie Green says. "It's also a privilege to pray for the child as you shop and pack the coat."

Cousins Sarah (left) and Gracelyn show off their new coats in West Virginia.

Cousins Sarah (left) and Gracelyn show off their new coats in West Virginia.

Three members, including Green, traveled from Charlotte to personally deliver the coats.

"I can't imagine being cold day after day, especially a child," she says. "But the trip is not only about the coats; it's about letting little children know that they are cared about for no reason other than they are precious."

Jayden, 10, received a blue hooded coat. It's a nice change, he says, because "I usually put on a sweatshirt and sweatpants."

Parents say the coats will help in a region where temperatures plunge and snow piles up.

"Sometimes it's 20 [degrees] below zero," says Kathy, a mother of three whose children received coats. "The winters here are brutal."

Jayden says his hooded coat is a nice change from wearing a sweatsuit when it gets cold.

Jayden says his hooded coat is a nice change from wearing a sweatsuit when it gets cold.

When Superstorm Sandy knocked out power for weeks in the region in 2012, she recalls, it was so cold that "you had to wear coats in the house."

That's assuming your kids can still get into them.

"Last year's coat doesn't even fit this year," says Beth, another mother of three. "Usually a coat lasts just through the winter. The sleeves get too short."

Her 6-year-old daughter, Nevaeh, received a pink puffy jacket that she likes because "it's cozy."

For families struggling to make ends meet, "one less expense is helpful," Kathy says. "Every little bit helps for sure."

Back in New York, World Vision's warehouse in the Bronx has provided the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Health Center not only with clothing, but also school supplies, books, hygiene products, and other items to distribute to those in need.

Women of Vision's Bettie Green hugs Aubrey after fitting her with a new winter coat.

Women of Vision's Bettie Green hugs Aubrey after fitting her with a new winter coat.

 

 

"There's just so much you can do. If we don't have these partners [like World Vision], our services get kind of limited," says Lee Nesifort, manager of the multi-service clinic. "We want to be all encompassing."

Facing an icy New York winter, Keisha appreciates the coats.

"Thanks to God," she says. "God knows what you need. And he sent it."

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