1,000 Summit County children get warm clothes through Knights of Columbus drive | SummitDaily.com

1,000 Summit County children get warm clothes through Knights of Columbus drive

The deliveries are all done, and the Knights of Columbus have turned their attention to next year's winter clothing drive, when they'll have another opportunity to be of service.

Now in its sixth year, the annual campaign boosts children's core temperatures and community spirits throughout the holiday season by helping children in the Rocky Mountains get the warm winter clothing they need at no cost to their families.

The Knights recently completed their 10th and final stop of the year to local schools in the three-county area covered by their annual clothing drive.

This time, the campaign was made possible by $30,000 total, received through donations from 80 private donors and four local grants, said Mike Kramer, campaign organizer.

"Every penny that comes in (goes to the children)," Kramer stated. "Nothing is spent on anything except winter clothing."

Additionally, the $30,000 figure is a dramatic jump from where the program began, and it shows just how much the drive has grown over the last six years, especially considering that in its first year, the campaign spent $7,800.

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With more than three times that this year, the money helped more than 1,000 children living in Lake, Grand and Summit counties this time around, Kramer said, with the majority of those children being here in Summit.

"The coat is only one component," he continued, explaining that children here often play outside in 10-degree weather or worse, and they need snow pants, bibs, gloves, hats and scarves, in addition to a warm winter coat.

Usually about two or three Knights will go out on any given delivery, loading up the back of a pickup truck full with boxes of free winter clothing. The Knights are often aided unloading by smiling, eager children at the schools, and it's always a heartwarming moment.

"It's a total reward," Kramer said of the deliveries before he started to talk about how hard living in the High Country can be on working families and the struggles many face trying to make ends meet.

"It's tough here for the working class," he said.

Serenity Bell, who works at Upper Blue Elementary, said she knows the children from some of these families, and when the mercury drops, some of them can't go out and play with their peers because they don't have the proper winter attire.

"For a kid to have a coat, think about it, it was 12 degrees today," Bell said just as school was letting out Wednesday.

"They don't get to go out on the sledding hill, and have to stay on the blacktop. For them, it's a really big deal to be able to do all those winter things they couldn't do if they didn't have that stuff."

Bell added that the school's teachers are "a lot happier" knowing their students are warm, and "on this side (of the county), we do have those kids whose parents have a hard time getting those things. … It is a huge impact for our school, in particular."

Having some extras, Kramer said, the Knights also dropped off three boxes of winter coats with the Adopt an Angel program, administered through the Family and Intercultural Resource Center this year.

"Any kids that got missed, hopefully, they go there and we can get them," Kramer said before calling it "another opportunity" to help.

And even though it might seem like the Knights have earned themselves a break after raising more than $30,000 and using all of that money to buy clothing for kids that they later delivered, Kramer said they're already working on fundraising for next year's campaign, when they hope to do even more.

"I think the program is awesome, and it's amazing what a wonderful community we have," Bell said of the drive. "I am just in awe of the support we get from the community. I'm proud to be a part of the school and the community we live in."

Tax-deductible donations should be made payable to Knights of Columbus, P.O. Box 3673, Dillon, CO 80435. For more info, call Kramer at 970-468-6566.

By the numbers

3: Counties covered by the program, including Lake, Grand and Summit.

10: Schools that participate in the program.

80: Individual donors who supported the program this year.

4: Local grants that boosted the Knights’ clothing campaign.

$30,000: The amount spent on clothing this year.

1,000: Children who received warm winter clothing this year through the program.

2,000: Items of clothing distributed through the campaign.

Source: Knights of Columbus