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Kid Reporter Lexi Cornell with Evanston Car Cruise member Jean Walker Kid Reporter Lexi Cornell with Evanston Car Cruise member Jean Walker. The committee provides coats and boots for kids who in need during the cold winters of Wyoming. (Photo Courtesy Lexi Cornell)

Coats For Kids

Car lovers raise money for winter coats

By Alexis Cornell | null null , null

Imagine the season's first snowfall and all you can think about is getting outside to play! As you pull out last winter's coat and boots, however, you realize that nothing fits you anymore. Or maybe you don't even have any winter clothes and your parents can't afford to buy any this season.

This is exactly what happens to many kids in Evanston, Wyoming, especially after a year of lost jobs and a weak economy all across the nation.

The Weather

The climate in Evanston in the winter is generally below freezing. The elevation is 6,800 feet above sea level. That is why the winters are so chilly and long here. Snow begins in September and lasts until May—or sometimes even June! Winter outerwear is essential, but not everyone can afford the right clothes.

The Solution

Coats for Kids was started to help those in need of winter coats and boots. The founder of the Evanston Car Cruise, Gary Harvey, said he created the charity because he was concerned about children forced to go outside in the cold with the proper outerwear. The Evanston Car Cruise raises money to buy winter coats for kids.

Harvey formed a committee of people who share his love for old cars and his concern for kids. Committee member Jean Walker has been a member of the Car Cruise Club for 10 years.

"We were excited that [Coats for Kids] was part of the car club," she said. "It was not only about going to car shows, but about charity as well."

She said she has seen many children at school standing in the freezing cold shivering and crying because they have no coat.

The Fundraising

Every summer Car Cruise sponsors an event called the Charity Rod Run where car owners get to show off their restored hot rods. The following day the cars are displayed at the park for another event called the Show-n-Shine.

The entry fee is only $20 and prizes are awarded for first, second, and third places. The car show is an excellent fundraiser, but it doesn't raise enough to fully fund Coats for Kids. Because of that, the club also solicits donations from local businesses. They raise anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 a year.

Two years ago, the car club spent more than $3,400 for 64 Evanston school children. Last year they bought coats and boots for 70 children, totaling $3,882.

"This year, we could be well over 100 kids," Walker said.

The Shopping

The money is used to buy new coats and boots. To qualify for a shopping trip, students and their parents must fill out a referral form and talk to a Car Cruise member.

"Every Thursday night at 7:00, the students and their parents arrange to meet the car club members at Walmart so they can pick out their own coats and boots," Walker explained. "They have ownership of what they've gotten."

The Rewards

The website for the organization states: "This is the only charity of this type in Evanston and provides a much needed service when one realizes how severe the winters can be in Evanston, Wyoming. All of the car club members are volunteers and their only pay is the satisfaction of providing a much needed charity in their home town for the needy local school kids."

For more information on the Coats for Kids program, check out the Evanston Car Cruise website!

Kids and the Economy

Kid Reporters take a look at the economy and how it is affecting kids and their communities during this holiday season in the Kids and the Economy Special Report.


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