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Donated coats will make kids 'feel like they are loved'

Led by LO resident Munnie Kettler, special needs students reach out to homeless children

Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego Community Transition Program students, with the encouragement of staff and parents, are working on a coat drive for the Community Transitional School. Sorting through donated coats (from left): Janelli Villarreal, Danny Rother, Spencer Traxton, Program Coordinator Rollie Wilson, Munnie Kettler and Brittany Reynolds.Munnie Kettler remembers wandering the streets with no food or shelter as a destitute child in India.

When she was 7, she was adopted and her new mom brought her to Lake Oswego. But Kettler says she has never forgotten those early years. She’s 19 now, and her experiences and her mother’s example of compassion for others have inspired her to establish a coat drive.Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Munnie Kettler, who has lived on the streets of India, is now reaching out to homeless children.

“I feel I’m lucky to have a house and food, so I want to give to someone else who doesn’t have them,” Kettler says. “I’m from the poor side of India. I had to beg and all that sort of stuff.”

Together with the other students in the Lake Oswego Community Transition Program — which guides young people with special needs from high school to the workforce and an independent life — Kettler decided to help the similarly named Community Transitional School, a nonprofit private Portland school for homeless children ages 5 to 14.

To make the coat drive happen, the Transition Program students have put up posters, sent out announcements and set up collection barrels at Lake Oswego High and Lake Oswego Junior High.

“From a teacher standpoint, it was good to see the whole program come together,” says Rollie Wilson, Transition Program coordinator.

Kettler, with friend Janelli Villarreal, even attended a Lake Oswego City Council meeting to raise awareness about their coat drive and the students at Community Transitional School.

The children “move a lot and some have to sleep in cars and on floors at other people’s homes,” Kettler told the Council. “The school helps them with food, clothes and transportation. In the winter, they need lots of warm clothes. If you have time, please donate. It will make the students warm, happy and feel like they are loved.”

Kettler’s goal was to collect 150 coats and hoodies. But as of Tuesday afternoon, the group had received 219 — about the number of students served by Community Transitional School each year.

Donations will be accepted through Monday, and the plan is to deliver the coats to the school in mid-December.

“It might take two trips at this rate, or probably three,” Kettler says.

Kettler says she was inspired to help the Community Transitional School after her mom took her to a fashion show that benefited the school.

She’s also following someone else’s example.

“I’m like my mom,” Kettler says. “She always wants to give.”

Julie Kettler says that when her daughter heard about the plight of the schoolchildren, she felt she needed to take action. “She knows what it’s like to be homeless; she spent part of her early childhood without a family, and she’s very, very tuned into that.”

Community Transitional School teacher and Principal Cheryl Bickle says she is impressed with how Munnie Kettler and this group of young people are reaching out to her students, some of whom live with their family in shelters or are alone, relying on the generosity of friends.

“I just think she sounds like an amazing person,” Bickle says.


Where: Collection barrels are located in the lobbies of Lake Oswego High, 2501 Country Club Road; and Lake Oswego Junior High, 2500 Country Club Road.

When: Donations may be dropped off from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the high school and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the junior high.

More information: Call the Lake Oswego Community Transition Program at 503-534-2390.

By Jillian Daley
503-636-1281, ext. 109
email: jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com
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