WATERLOO — Pax Muanda stood in front of a mirror in Kittrell Elementary School’s cafeteria.
The second-grader wore a charcoal gray coat with neon yellow lining, a black and white snowflake-patterned knit hat with ear flaps, gray gloves, black snow pants and a colorful blue scarf covered with penguins.
“Oh, I look good in this,” he announced.
He was one of about 80 children who chose winter outerwear in their favorite styles and colors Wednesday during the Koats 4 Kids distribution at the school.
Before that, Muanda was trying to fit into a coat from last winter. “My jacket’s too small for me,” he said, of the old coat.
Fourth-grader Mariah Jenkins chose an ensemble of coat, hat, scarf and boots dominated by the color purple. She also picked out gray gloves.
“I like it,” she said, noting the outfit will provide her with more warmth for the winter. “I had a thin jacket and it was too little.”
Sunshine Lange also was wearing a thin coat when she arrived in the cafeteria. By the time the second-grader left, she had picked out a pink knit headband, pink gloves, and a zebra-patterned scarf to go with her coat — which was pink at the top fading to purple.
“It’s soft,” she said of her reasons for choosing the coat.
Kittrell is among 29 schools in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Evansdale, Elk Run Heights, Hudson, Dunkerton and La Porte City where donation-supported Koats 4 Kids has been distributing cold weather clothing. Staff at the schools identify the students with the most need to benefit from the effort.
Along with the coats, “I brought 70-plus boots and lots of snow pants” to Kittrell, noted organizer Julie Ehlers. They were purchased with donations from individuals, businesses and organizations. Gloves, hats and scarves were also available to the children.
“We have women that make fleece scarves and all those knitted headbands and hats,” said Ehlers. “We really appreciate those.”
Ehlers didn’t have exact fundraising and distribution figures Wednesday. Her goal had been to provide 800 coats, 600 pairs of boots and 600 pairs of snow pants to children.
The bulk of the items were handed out by a crew of volunteers at elementary schools in Waterloo during the past week. Ehlers said “probably close to 100” volunteers have helped out this year, including more than 20 at Kittrell.
Most of what remains will be given to middle and high school students who would otherwise go without adequate winter gear. She also expects to continue buying more items at year-end sales. “We’re still taking donations,” said Ehlers, and will continue fitting needy students with coats into February.
“I’m really grateful that our community recognizes that there is a need for these items,” she added.