Knights gathering coats for kids, seniors
Local drive by Knights of Columbus aims to reach every child
Last year, Jim Brasel member of the Knights of Columbus, started the program Coats for Kids in Cassville.
Walking door to door, Brasel collected $7,750 in donations from local businesses, and the Knights of Columbus bought 410 coats for local children, which were handed out at the Cassville St. Edwards church last year.
Brasel said this year, he and everyone involved want to do even more.
“We want to reach more children, but there is a new twist this year as well,” he said. “We are going to buy coats for kids, of course, and we are going to buy coats for senior citizens too.”
After starting the program just last year, Brasel convinced the Springfield Knights of Columbus to add in seniors.
“I was hearing it a lot last year from many businesses,” he said. “They would ask if I had ever considered it, and there was one specific business owner in Purdy who really wanted us to look into it.”
Gail Reed, at the Barry County Neighborhood Center, will be spearheading the senior citizen part of the project.
“I really got to thinking about this last year as I was watching a lot of grandparents bring in their grandchildren to get a coat for them,” Brasel said. “I thought, if they need help for the children, then they probably need help for themselves.”
The program aims to get any child that needs a coat, from babies to seniors in high school, and now, that goal includes senior citizens.
“Gail said she can get the word out to seniors, and I will continue to work with school districts and early childhood centers to find every child that we can,” he said. “This all got started last year because the Springfield Knights of Columbus go to different Knights clubs, and I had heard about it through another group.
“It really struck a cord in my heart strings. I love children. They are my passion.”
Although 410 coats were distributed last year, Brasel thinks there are more children to be helped.
“I am hoping that we can get the 25 percent that were missed last year,” he said. “If we can do that, I think we can put a coat on every child that I come across.”
The new goal is to raise $10,000 from area businesses.
“Last year, I only had two weeks to organize the whole project,” Brasel said. “But still, local businesses were so generous. I think now that they have seen what good we are doing together, they will be even more generous this year.”
Just like last year, the coats for children will be handed out at St. Edwards church in Cassville, and the Knights of Columbus have arranged to have the Springfield Cardinals’ mascot there to meet the children.
“We are also working on getting a few of the players to come out to sign caps for the kids,” Brasel said. “The thing that warmed my heart the most last year was that the Cassville basketball team came out to help children find the right size coat for them and try them on.
“I think that benefits both the young children to see their peers rather than adults helping them, and the team learned how great helping others is.”
Brasel said every volunteer that he spoke to last year said it felt good to be a part of the project.
“A lot of good comes out of this, aside from getting children in warm coats,” he said.
Brasel said he is not sure he will be able to do it next year and that worries him.
“I am 88 years old, it is getting harder to get out and around to collect donations,” he said. “I want to find a Knight with the same passion I have to take it over.
“I will certainly keep going as long as God will allow me to.”
Brasel said the coats are bought brand new, rather than collecting gently used coats, because giving a new coat to a child makes them more willing to take one.
“It is brand new and only theirs,” he said. “It gives the child ownership over it and more confidence.”
As Brasel goes door to door to local businesses to raise money for the coats, he said he never walks out with a no.
“I always get a yes, even if it isn’t money” he said. “They can’t always donate money, but they can say a prayer and keep the project and the people who are being helped in their thoughts.”
The distribution of the coats for children will be on Nov. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Edwards Church in Cassville. Coats for seniors will also be distributed there at the the same time, but at the Cassville OACAC office.
For more information, people may call Brasel at 847-642-7397.