Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Public fundraising party aims to provide new winter coats for students

By Carol McGraw Updated: September 23, 2013 at 5:47 pm

When students don't have coats, they often stay home or suffer from the cold.

So for seven years, Koats 4 Kids has collected new winter coats.

This year the recipients will be students at Centennial Elementary School in Harrison School District 2. More than 90 percent of the children are impoverished.

The winter wear will be collected at a fundraising party 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Mining Exchange, 8 S. Nevada Ave.

Admission to the public event - which will include a buffet, wine and live music by the Colorado Springs Conservatory - is one brand-new winter coat for an elementary school-age boy or girl. The fundraising party also will include a live auction, with proceeds going to the Conservatory scholarship fund.

Wendy Birhanzel, Centennial principal, said the school can focus on achievement knowing students are warm and safe this winter. "We are grateful to the leaders in our community for making this happen."

This year's event will have a special commemoration for the late Tom Rogers, who was the first benefactor of the program. Courtney Olson, his daughter, said in a news release that her father came from a family of 10 in Illinois and his parents could not afford coats for all the kids. He was the second youngest, and the hand-me-down coats were threadbare. "He would watch the lost and found at school and when a coat went unclaimed, he would use it to get through the winter," Olson said.

Rogers, who was owner of Manitou Cliff Dwellings, was contacted in 2007 by the fledgling Koats 4 Kids. "He gave generously and was pivotal in the formation of the organization," Olson said. "My dad knew how it felt to be left out in the cold."

Last year's event resulted in collection of 300 coats for Hunt Elementary students, and $7,000 for conservatory scholarships.

Since its inception the organization has provided coats for Aragon, Will Rogers, Oak Creek, Pinello and Evans elementary schools, and raised $40,000 for the scholarships.

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Contact Carol McGraw: 636-0371 Twitter @mcgrawatgazette

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