Elgin Salvation Army provides winter coats for U-46 students in need
The Salvation Army in Elgin has launched a new initiative to provide winter coats to Elgin Area School District U-46 students in need.
Since October, the group has set up coat closets in 25 schools -- 22 elementary and three middle schools -- throughout the district.
Schools were identified by U-46 employees based on student need, available space and if they didn't already have a similar charitable program.
Each elementary school is allotted 16 new coats, and middle schools get 10 coats each. The group will restock closets as coats run out.
"We are committed to doing that through the winter season," said Rick Reigner, resource development director for the Salvation Army in Elgin. "We've provided 840 coats so far."
Reigner said Project Coat Closet was inspired by a discussion with U-46 officials who said some students came to school in hooded sweatshirts during last year's polar vortex.
Now, if a school employee notices an underdressed student in severe weather, a social worker will help the student to pick out a winter coat from the closet to keep. U-46 schools without coat closets can contact one of the partner schools with closets if a need arises, Reigner said.
The Salvation Army in Elgin purchases coats at a reduced rate through a nonprofit organization. Individuals and organizations have stepped up to sponsor closets in 17 of the 25 schools. Sponsorship costs are $500 for an elementary school and $300 for a middle school.
Sponsors can have logos or names and a message placed on closets. Sponsors are needed for Horizon, Laurel Hill, Ontarioville and Parkwood elementary schools in Hanover Park, Lincoln Elementary in Hoffman Estates, Wayne Elementary, and Harriet Gifford Elementary in Elgin.
To sponsor a closet, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Reigner at (847) 741-2304, ext. 308.
Reigner said the agency will evaluate the program in the spring to determine whether to continue and expand it to more schools.