Today, more than 11% of Americans struggle to afford the necessities. One in six children are living in poverty and may not have access to vital winter clothes like a warm, dry, well-fitting coat. The North Thurston Education Foundation (NTEF) partnered with the Knights of Columbus to hand out nearly 1,300 coats to students in their district. This event and partnership means local families can rest easy during wet, chilly weather.

The Lacey South Sound Chamber, North Thurston Education Foundation, the Knights of Columbus and True Responders worked together handing out coats to kids. Photo credit: Julie Hyde

Warm Coats for Students Thanks to North Thurston Education Foundation and Community Partners

Blake Knoblauch is North Thurston Education Foundation President and Deputy Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus. He says that in our area warm clothes are always a major need. “This was a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together to provide for kids during the cold season,” he adds.

Deanna East, executive director of the North Thurston Education Foundation, explains that coats were distributed in several ways. Initially there was a one-day event open to all students. “They were welcome to come and select a coat that best suited their preferences and size. About 150 students attended and chose warm coats to keep them snug throughout the winter.”

Afterwards all remaining coats were sent to schools district-wide, in case families couldn’t attend the open house. “I am thrilled to announce that every single coat was given out,” says East, “both during the initial distribution event and through schools during conference week. This achievement is a testament to the collective generosity and community spirit put into the coat giveaway efforts.”

two kids pose with their new coats and give the camera a thumbs up.
The coat drive gave nearly 1,300 coats to kids in the North Thurston school district so they can be warm and dry all winter long. Photo credit: Julie Hyde

Civic Leaders and Educators Working Together to Help Local Students

East explains that nearly half of North Thurston Public School students were on Free and Reduced Lunch last year, and a heartbreaking 924 were identified as homeless. “These numbers underscore the urgency to extend our efforts and collaborate with additional groups and businesses,” she says. “By forging new partnerships, we aim to keep pace with the growing demand for these fundamental necessities, ensuring that no student within our community goes without the support required for their well-being and academic success. Together, we can make a significant impact on the lives of these students, fostering a community where every child has the opportunity to thrive.”

Andrew Miller, Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus and North Thurston Education Foundation vice president of resource development, believes this event truly embodies their council’s charitable outreach. “We are blessed to do this work,” says Miller. “The partnership between the Knights and the NTEF is a shining example of what real charity should look like in our world.”

Miller and his fellow Knights were on hand to help with distribution and remove tags so kids could wear their new coat home. “Some kids didn’t want the tags removed,” Miller recalls, “so their friends could see they had a new coat. Seeing all the children smile as they received a new coat was tremendous and heartfelt.”

Deanna East, North Thurston Education Foundation executive director (left) helps a child into a new coat. East praises the collective generosity and community spirit of those who helped. Photo credit: Julie Hyde

You Too Can Help Meet Very Real Needs for Thurston County Kids

Hang around kids long enough and you’ll see how quickly they change, learn, mature and grow. And grow and grow and grow. This year’s winter coat is almost guaranteed to be too small by spring. East and the North Thurston Education Foundation accept donations year round and hold an annual fundraiser luncheon each October. Sign up for their newsletter to learn how you can contribute clothes, shoes, toiletries, food and basic necessities.

“Every day I talk to school counselors, nurses or teachers about student’s needs,” says East. To meet them, the North Thurston Education Foundation offers Student Assistance Grants and sponsors a Homeless Liaison to ensure homeless and low-income students receive what they need to be successful in school. “Some students’ needs are simple items like school supplies, clothing, food, sports equipment, instrument rentals or fees for classes, AP testing or extracurricular activities,” she explains.

But needs are changing in our area. “More and more families need emergency funds for rental or utility assistance to secure or maintain housing, car repairs or replacement of equipment after it was damaged,” says East. “For some their needs are unique, like medications, supportive equipment, or tuition for credit retrieval programs. We make sure funds and items are donated directly to the schools so staff can quickly and quietly provide these items to minimize potential discomfort or shame, ensuring that those in need receive the assistance they require immediately.”

Many of us take warm, dry clothes and a full belly for granted. But imagine being cold, tired, hungry and then facing the pressures of school. Growing up is hard enough as it is. Consider partnering with the North Thurston Education Foundation to make local lives just a little easier as they navigate education, adulthood and building a bright, healthy future.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email