The “Coats for Kids” campaign is returning for a fourth year here.
Its purpose is to make sure no child is without a proper jacket during the winter months.
“Our goal is to alleviate the pressure that families face during Christmas time,” said campaign volunteer Nathan Cousineau.
The campaign is a collaboration between the Knight of Columbus and Burlington Coat Factory, where a dozen brand new coats can be purchased for only $300 (U.S.)
That works out to roughly $25 per coat, making them incredibly inexpensive, said Cousineau.
“They're inexpensive for us at that bulk rate," he explained. "It's really efficient.”
“Because our buying power is so strong, there's really not a lot of ways you can give money to a worthy cause that can do so much with so little,” Cousineau added.
The coats come at such a discount because they are last year's fashions but still are high-quality.
“They are beautiful coats and we see them all over Fort Frances actually,” Cousineau noted.
“And it helps quite a bit because it saves the families [money] and at Christmas time, that's when they need it the most.”
Coats can become quite the expense for large families, especially with children constantly growing.
The great thing about this program is kids can feel good wearing a brand new coat, Cousineau said.
“And something interesting that they do is they don't give us one jacket, so there is no way to distinguish who is getting supported through the program,” he stressed.
“With the jackets, there is upwards of six different styles so it's really hard to say, 'Those jackets came from the Knights of Columbus,' so kids can just be happy that they are wearing a warm coat.”
The program is running here for a fourth year now, with eight dozen coats being donated last year alone.
Cousineau is hoping to exceed that number this year.
“I hope to at least hit that benchmark and if we can get 10 dozen, that would be awesome,” he enthused.
Cousineau is confident it can be made possible through the community's consistent support.
“Since this is our fourth year, it's grown in size,” he noted.
“Every year we've been able to increase the amount of coats that we sourced and the community has showed that they're behind it because it does grow every year.”
The program runs throughout North America and more than a quarter-million jackets have been distributed to children in need.
The coats are spread across the district and distributed through the Kenora-Rainy River Districts Child and Family Services, as well as the First Nations Associated Family Child Services.
“We're the spear but everyone else was working really close to us to get with us to get this accomplished,” Cousineau said.
“Once the coats in Fort Frances are all distributed to Fort Frances families, then they make their way out to First Nation communities and then from there they go to Atikokan and other places within their agency's jurisdiction.”
A lot of local businesses have been very supportive of this program in the past, with money coming from more than 20 different places.
“Coats for Kids” is hoping to reach its fundraising goal by the end of October.
People can call Cousineau at 276-7142 if they would like to donate or visit the parish office at St. Mary's to drop off money, where tax receipts will be available.
“We are really happy to bring it to this community," Cousineau smiled. ”And it's all about the kids and making sure the families are able to have a happy Christmas.
“We're here to serve families and we're happy to continue on with that legacy.”