WATERLOO — Mikia Key got outfitted with a coat, hat, gloves and scarf Monday.
Now the Fred Becker Elementary School first-grader was on the hunt for some snow pants.
“Got any pink ones?” the girl asked Julie Ehlers as she approached the boxes full of snow pants. “I wear size six.”
Ehlers dug through the boxes and had her try a black pair to see how they fit. After more digging, she found a pink pair that was the right size. Ehlers and a group of volunteers with Koats 4 Kids were distributing winter wear to needy students, the first of four days of visits to Cedar Valley schools.
For the first year, snow pants are being given to children during the annual distribution that started in 2012. It’s a measure of how generous people have been with their donations.
A total of a 142 individuals or organizations gave $24,007 this year, which allowed for the purchase of 807 coats, 663 pairs of boots and 522 pairs of snow pants. Staff at 24 schools in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Evansdale, Hudson, Dunkerton and La Porte City identify the students with the most need to benefit from the effort.
“That’s our best year,” said Ehlers, who organizes the give-away. She noted the Waterloo Community Foundation is now the fiscal agent for Koats 4 Kids, allowing it to apply for grants. “We’re still taking donations, because I don’t think the requests for snow pants will ever end.”
They also had plenty of hats, gloves and scarves to hand out. Women in the community and the East High School leadership class donated more than 800 fleece scarves they made. Each student is being invited to take a second scarf and “pass the kindness on” to a friend or a sibling, said Ehlers.
Once Key put on her snow paints, the first-grader was almost satisfied.
“I think I like all the stuff,” she said. “I thought they would give out the snow boots. I like those pink boots over there, because they match my coat and pants.”
A shelf against one wall was lined with dozens of boots. In order to move students through the line quickly, the school planned to fit children for the boots on a later day.
Across the room, a pair of fourth-grade boys were suited up in their new outer wear, posing in two full-length mirrors.
“We both got Star Wars,” said Taijian Taylor, showing his gloved hands to reveal the movie series’ logo. Classmate Zeddicus Albright’s new gloves showed the helmet of a storm trooper.
The boys said they were in need of some items to be better prepared for the winter weather. “I lost my boots and I lost my snow pants,” said Albright.
“My scarf was left at my old house,” added Taylor.
Two third-grade girls found matching pink and gray leopard print coats. “We got everything the same,” said Jasmine Slifka, including pink hats and gloves and matching scarves.
“Because we like to be the same,” added Dayna McMullen.
Fourth-grader James Tippetts found a red and black coat to replace the one he had been wearing out in the cold weather. “This one is actually a lot warmer than the other one I had,” he said, noting the other was a rain coat.
He also was grateful for the new scarf and gloves. Tippetts did not have those at home, but his dad had been planning to buy the items for him.
“I guess I can tell him I don’t need them anymore,” he said.