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Annual coat giveaway keeps children warm during winter months

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - CPAH volunteers help children and parents with finding the right coat during their annual coat drive at Greenburg Oaks apartments. The temperature is dropping, and winter is fast approaching. But thanks to a donation from Tigard’s two rotary clubs, more than 100 local children will be nice and warm as they brave the elements this holiday season.

On Friday, members of the two Tigard Rotary clubs, the Tigard Rotary and the Tigard Breakfast Rotary, handed out 109 coats to children at Greenburg Oaks apartments in Tigard and Olsen Woods apartments in Metzger, two low-income apartment complexes run by Community Partners for Affordable Housing.

This is the second year the two clubs have teamed up to hand out coats to needy kids at CPAH apartments.

CPAH offers affordable housing and support to low-income families in Washington County and Southwest Portland.

“Having a warm coat enables kids to stay active by playing outside during the cold winter months and helps to prevent illness,” said Shannon Wilson, CPAH’s director of operations. “It is a great benefit for our resident kids, and we are so thankful for the community groups who make this happen.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Rotary vounteer Marilyn Henderson helps Perla Ortiz try on a jacket at Greenbrug Oaks apartments.The Rotary clubs purchased the coats through a nationwide program called Operation Warm, a nonprofit dedicated to getting winter coats into the hands of underprivileged youth.

“Oh, these are warm,” Tigard Rotary Club member Diana Weston said, taking off the large winter jacket she tried on.

Weston, a Rotary member participating in the coat giveaway for the first time, said she was touched by the children’s reaction.

“One little boy came up to me and asked, ‘Can I wear this outside?’” Weston said. “That really got to me. It was a really nice coat, and he wanted to know if it was OK to play in.”

Many of the children did just that, braving the chilling temperatures to play outside in their coats.

“Being able to see the smiles from the kids, that was gratifying,” Weston said.

Weston praised the partnership between the clubs, Operation Warm and CPAH.

“It’s a logical partnership,” Weston said. “It’s a worthwhile thing to do.”

All four organizations work to make the community better, by giving back to the community, she added.

“There is a lot of need right here, and various groups of people trying to help in some small part to address this whole issue — whether it’s addressing homelessness or feeding the hungry. There are a lot of people who scrape by, and how much money is there leftover to buy a warm coat?”

Tracy Stepp, CPAH’s outreach manager, agreed, saying it was important for kids to be able to have a warm coat each winter.

“It is really great to be able to provide new coats every year so they are able to have a sense of comfort and warmth when before they had maybe handmedown coats,” Stepp said. “We appreciate the Rotarys’ help in putting those coats in their hands.”

Operation Warm donates coats to groups across the country. For more, visit operationwarm.org.

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