Big Reno Coat Drive underway to help schools in need

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) It's recess at Rita Cannan Elementary School and while the kids on the playground are playing like they don't have a worry in the world, many of their parents are worried about how they will stay warm this winter.

"A majority of our students do struggle with being prepared for the cold weather here in our community, says Daniel Kirk, Assistant Principal at Rita Cannan. He says more than half of the students depend on coats that get donated to the school.

"They rely on it," says Kirk. "It allows them to get the help and support they need."

This school is one of several in the area where counselors put in requests with organizers of the Big Reno Coat Drive. Now in its thirteenth year, its president says as the drive continues to grow, so does the demand for winter coats for children.

"I've been in contact with several schools here that are getting their lists together and have kids that are waiting and relying on us to supply a new winter coat for them," says Lindy McQuirk, President of the Big Reno Coat Drive.

McQuirk says more than 60 businesses and organizations are now collecting for the drive and putting out the donation bins that allow customers and community members to give new or gently used coats. Some participating businesses, like Evergreen Carpet Care, don't just wait for customers to drop off their winter gear.

"On average, we're in about 75 homes a day, so it's an easy question to ask our customers and it's easy for us to take away whatever our customers want to donate," says Adam Carlsen, General Manager of Evergreen Carpet Care.

Back at Rita Cannan Elementary School, administrators say the school appreciates all the help and support from the community. Assistant Principal Kirk says making sure their students are staying warm in the winter is important for reasons beyond comfort.

"Being cold is a factor that can impact their learning and that's something that we want to not be a factor that kids have to worry about," says Kirk.

The Big Reno Coat Drive kicked off October 20 and runs through November 30.

This year, the nonprofit is accepting monetary donations. It has also set up bins at schools that include Caughlin Ranch Elementary School, where it may be more convenient for families to drop off coats.

For more information and a list of drop off locations, head to bigrenocoatdrive.org.