Faced with an early onset of winter-like temperatures across the region, more than 1,300 students from preschool through high school will begin their Thanksgiving breaks this week better protected from the cold thanks to those who contributed to the Adena Health Foundation’s Coats for Kids campaign.
The program, through which Adena reaches out each year to participating area school leaders to gather sizes of students determined to be most in need of a new winter coat, began as a health system project in 2007. That first year, more than 200 coats were provided. This year, a program high of 1,344 coats were requested, bringing the total donated since the program’s inception to more than 14,300 coats.
The majority of the coats are shopped for and donated by employees across all Adena hospitals, clinics and offices. The health system’s medical staff contributes a monetary donation to the program that is supplemented with other funds raised during the health foundation’s annual caregiver giving campaign. Other contributions made this year included financial donations, hats and gloves from some businesses and organizations on both the local and state levels, as well as monetary donations from individuals.
“It’s a wonderful project,” said Robin Berno, Adena Health Foundation’s director of major giving. “We couldn’t do any of this without the support of leadership, the medical staff, those caregivers who saw my pleas for coats that were still needed and offered to buy more, and those in the community who have contributed. I am extremely grateful we can continue to do this each year for families in the communities Adena serves.”
After more than a month of collecting, sorting and preparing the coats for delivery, staff within Adena spread out across the region the last few days delivering the coats to officials at the participating schools who then distributed them to the students they had identified for the program. For Berno, who has been involved with Coats for Kids in some capacity since its inception at Adena and who now handles the bulk of the organizing, collecting, sorting and preparing of coats for delivery, the program is an investment in the area’s future.
“These children are getting a gift from a stranger and I truly believe that one day they will pay it forward,” she said. “Every year, I keep saying that will happen.”
Coats for Kids is one of several programs in which Adena Health System is partnering with area schools as part of its commitment to care for the overall health of the communities it serves. Others include a longstanding practice of providing athletic trainers, training services and sports physicals for student-athletes; expanding scholarship opportunities; job shadowing programs; and new 10-year partnership agreements with 13 school districts representing an $18.2 million investment that will enhance health and wellness opportunities and help provide for other district needs.
This story was provided by Jason Gilham, manager external communications, Adena Health System