If the coat fits …

Coats for Kids is rounding up the winter gear school children need

Shimkat Motor Co. and Community Health Center of Fort Dodge are once again collecting winter clothing for children who need those items.

The annual clothing drive, Coats for Kids, is a collaborative effort between Shimkat and Community Health Center to help area school children stay warm.

The program started about 10 years ago when Lisa Shimkat, the wife of Ed Shimkat Jr., co-owner of Shimkat Motor Co., came up with the idea after speaking to the staff at Duncombe Elementary School, where their children attended. At that time Lisa Shimkat learned of the need for warm clothes.

That first year alone, more than 1,000 coats were donated. They had so many, some of the coats ended up being donated to schools outside of Fort Dodge.

A few years after that, Shimkat joined forces with the Community Health Center of Fort Dodge.

Coats, hats, gloves, snow pants, and boots are accepted. All sizes are accepted.

The items can be dropped off at Community Health Center, Shimkat, Coldwell Banker, and Mineral City Mill and Grill.

Lydia Schuur, outreach coordinator at Community Health Center, said Mineral City will also reward those who donate items.

“If you drop off at Mineral, you get a free appetizer,” she said.

Schuur said the clothing provided is essential for children.

“Iowa winters can be really, really cold,” she said. “There’s a lot of kids out there who don’t have coats or snow pants or boots, and then at recess they can’t go and play because they don’t have the right gear to wear. It’s helpful to hand out to them.”

Some adult coats will be available.

“We have some adult coats as well out in the lobby, so people when they are here to get kids coats can also get an adult-sized coat,” Schuur said. “Which is also helpful because sometimes we focus on the kids, but their dad or mom or grandpa and grandma may not have one either. So if there is one that fits, they are welcome to have it.”

The clothing items will be handed out from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday at Community Health Center, 126 N. 10th St.

Chad Thompson is a general assignment reporter for The Messenger.

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