MILWAUKEE -- As any football purist will tell you, defense wins championships, and when the opponent is cold weather, a kid’s best defense is a good coat.
“Some of the kids have never had that before. Never actually had a nice, protective coat," said Major Steven Merritt, divisional commander with the Salvation Army.
2017 marks the 33rd year of the Salvation Army and FOX6's Coats for Kids campaign. Once again, we’re asking for donations of new or gently used coats of all sizes that will be given away for free to families in need.
“If they’re not in school, if they’re home sick because they don’t have a coat, then they’re not going to do well in school," said Faithe Colas, Salvation Army assistant director of development.
Last year, the Salvation Army collected 4,636 coats. This year, they’ve raised the bar to a goal of 10,000 coats. Partners like Johnson Bank say they’re already collecting donations at a record pace.
“After the first week last year, we were at 60 coats -- and we were over 400 this year after one week. We’re now over 700 for the second week," said Gus Hernandez, regional president at Johnson Bank.
To wash and prep that number of coats, the Salvation Army relies on another long-term partner -- ITU AbsorbTech and its industrial laundry machines.
“If we were to wash those jackets -- you and I -- in our home washer machines, those would take three months to wash the same amount of coats that we can wash in just a couple days," said Jessica Hryniewicki, account executive.
And that means more happy faces at the distribution days -- December 8th-9th.
“Many families in the past years have come to us on that day and they don’t have a coat. I mean, they’re wearing their sweaters and their children are too. They come here and they walk out with smiles on, and our volunteers love helping," said Colas.
A powerful image that -- like a good coat -- will warm your heart.