Coats for Kids helps schoolchildren brave the winter

December 2, 2015
Author: Chris Larson

MILLCREEK — Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment donated 1,030 winter jackets and matching Utah Jazz beanies to 11 local schools identified by the United Way of Salt Lake on Wednesday.

James E. Moss Elementary School received 130 jackets and matching beanies — delivered by the Utah Jazz Bear — for students in need of a coat for the winter season said principal Judith Kissell.

"For kids, you need to take care of their basic needs in order for them to learn," said social worker Sabrina Felsted. "They've got to have shoes, they've got to have coats."

According to Kissell, Moss Elementary's student body is made up of about 600 students with a large immigrant and refugee population; 53 countries and 35 languages are represented at the school.

Kissell also said that 94 percent of students participate in the free or discount lunch program.

"The amount of kids that showed up Monday when it was below 20 (degrees) with only hooded sweatshirts was amazing, and that's what they had for coats," Kissell said.

Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment spokesman Frank Zang said the company's effort, known as Coats for Kids, falls under the company's larger involvement in NBA Cares Season of Giving.

He also said this is the third year that the company has decided to purchase new coats for teh program instead of exchanging gifts with corporate partners.

"All of that comes in the context of Larry H. Miller's statement he said before he passed away. Go about doing good until there is too much good in the world,'" Zang said. The company's intent is to give back to the places where they "live, work and play," Zang said.

Sophie Siebacht-Glover, United Way community school director for Moss Elementary, said the school boundaries include a lot of affordable housing desirable to immigrants and refugees. She, in conjunction with Felsted, helps mitigate any circumstance that affect the ability of a child to get an education, including basic needs.

"We won't hand them all out at once," Siebacht-Glover said referring to the coats. "They will be given out on a needs-based situation."

Siebacht-Glover said the United Way of Salt Lake operates in Davis, Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties.

Community Volunteer Engagement Coordinator Stephanie Rokich said the United Way takes a "collective impact approach."

"We work with the schools to identify the students that need them and partners like (Larry H. Miller) drop them off," Rokich said.

Organizations can list their needs with the United Way of Salt Lake's holiday volunteer list. Rokich said that the list generates both private and corporate engagement, especially via social media.

Felsted said her primary focus is providing social and emotional support to allow academic success, but this is often frustrated when physical needs, a secondary responsibility, are not met.

"When we get donations (Felsted) can spend more of her time doing the social and behavioral things," Kissell said of Felsted's efforts.

The Coats for Kids program distributed coats and hats to Cottonwood High School, Granger Elementary School, Granite Park Junior High School, Guadalupe School, Kearns Junior High School, Kearns High School, Moss Elementary School, Oquirrh Hills Elementary School, Roosevelt Elementary School, South Kearns Elementary School and Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.