High numbers as Coats for Kids holds distribution kick-off


Many children in the Windsor-Essex community may struggle to stay warm this winter without proper attire, and to that end the UHC - Hub of Opportunities is looking to make sure it doesn't happen.

For over 20 years UHC has been running the Coats for Kids Campaign to ensure everyone can access proper winter apparel, and today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. they'll be hosting the 2023 Distribution Kick-Off at the Unifor Local 444/200 office at 1855 Turner Road.

This is considered UHC’s main location, where families will be able to shop for themselves, which officials say allows individuals and families to maintain their independence and pick out their favourite coats and accessories. 

There are also four additional distribution sites across Windsor-Essex County, where all coats are cleaned by Cintas and offer a variety of gently used adult and children coats and accessories. 

These distribution sites, located in Amherstburg, Belle River, and Leamington, will only be distributing coats until November 10 so families in need will have one week to shop for their winter necessities.

Heidi Benson, Coats for Kids coordinator, says it's a tough time right now for so many and they expect that to have an impact on their numbers.

"We're anticipating some pretty high numbers, just everybody being impacted by different things like inflation and the cost of food," she continued. "So we're anticipating that there's going to be a high need for coats this year."

Benson says people in need can just come down to the union hall beginning at 10 a.m.

"So there's no pre-registration, it's just first come first served. We are open throughout the week as well, Monday to Friday, so if you're not able to make it on Saturday no problem you can come any day during the week as well."

She says helping out families and young kids is a wonderful feeling, and it means so much.

"We've had quite a few schools do coat drives as well, so really seeing kids helping kids it touches the heart. We're so thankful we've had a lot of coats donated, we're looking pretty good, and we're grateful to the community for their support," Benson said.

The UHC - Hub of Opportunities has been running the Coats for Kids program since 2002, and provides families with over 6000 warm winter coats annually. 

As the temperatures begin to drop, organizers and volunteers say no child should have to brace the cold without the proper attire which includes winter coats, hats, and gloves.

-with files from AM800's Rob Hindi