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Fort Wayne-area Coats for Kids program launches winter wear collection drive

Steve Grashoff, left, president of Peerless Cleaners, helps a girl at MLK Montessori School try on new gloves during the kickoff Wednesday for the annual Coats for Kids winter clothing collection drive. Peerless is a drop-off location and cleans gently used coats before they are distributed to children in need through area schools and social-service agencies. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
Fort Wayne Fire Department Firefighter Al Fitch, back right, and Diana Carney of Berne Apparel in Ossian, help children at MLK Montessori School put on new gloves during the kickoff Wednesday for the annual Coats for Kids winter clothing collection drive. New and gently used coats, hats, gloves and scarves will be collected Saturday through Dec. 3 for distribution in mid-December to children in need through area schools and social-service agencies. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
Fort Wayne Fire Department members Mike Miller, left, and John Gilbert help students from MLK Montessori School in and out of a fire department truck Wednesday outside the school on South Anthony Boulevard. The tour of the truck came after the children received new winter coats, hat and gloves during the kickoff for the annual Coats for Kids collection drive. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
One MLK Montessori School student enjoys the view while sitting in a seat in a Fort Wayne Fire Department truck Wednesday after the kickoff for the annual Coats for Kids collection drive. Fort Wayne Firefighter John Gilbert looks on. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)

It was smiles all around and a few high-fives Wednesday as Fort Wayne firefighters and others helped children at MLK Montessori School, 6001 S. Anthony Blvd., pick out new winter coats, hats and gloves — the kickoff for the annual Coats for Kids program.

This is the 18th year for the program, which in recent years has collected and distributed more than 5,000 coats a year through schools and social-service organizations in Allen and six surrounding counties, said Jean Joley, executive director of the Volunteer Center, which organizes the program.

Coats for Kids, which has distributed more than 55,000 coats since it began, also serves Adams, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Wells and Whitley counties, Joley said.

The kickoff event at MLK Montessori starts the program’s coat collection drive.

From Saturday through Dec. 3, people are asked to drop off new or gently used boys and girls coats to these area locations:

• Peerless Cleaners stores

• Kroger stores

• Penn Station restaurants

• Adams Radio Group, which has a main office locally at 2000 Lower Huntington Road

• Parkview Orthopedic Hospital, 11130 Parkview Circle, Entrance 7, on the Parkview Regional Medical Center campus

• YMCA branches in Allen, Wells and Whitley counties

The sizes most needed are size 8 through adult, the news release said.

People also can donate toward the program at www.volunteerfortwayne.org through Dec. 18 or by mailing a check payable to the Volunteer Center to: Volunteer Center, 3401 Lake Ave., Suite 4, Fort Wayne, IN 46805. A donation of $25 will buy a coat, hat, gloves and scarf for one child, the news release said.

Fort Wayne Fire Department firefighters will deliver the coats, hats, gloves and scarves to schools and social-service agencies the week of Dec. 18, the news release said.

Peerless Cleaners will clean donated gently used coats before they are distributed.

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