The child and his mother conferred, going back and forth between the three coats. All fit. All were warm. All were new. The dilemma? Which color he liked best.
Over 90% of the children we serve meet federal poverty guidelines. For many of them, a new coat is a luxury, a financial stretch for the family.
In the lower level of our Danbury Child Guidance Clinic is a very special place called Harmony Station.
Harmony Station is a mock subway station complete with a subway car play space and four "shops". Each shop offers new items, free to our clients. One of those shops is called The Cozy Ski Chalet.
In the Ski Chalet is winter wear. Brand NEW coats, hats, gloves, scarves, socks and boots which the children select for themselves. That is where the coats the employees of Ampacet donated are hung, waiting for a child to choose them.
Family & Children's Aid give out a ton of used coats as well. We gave out 450 used and 100 new coats last winter, and expect the need to be similar this year.
New coats are expensive. Why go to all the trouble and expense to provide the children with new coats?
When buying or receiving something used is a choice, it's a cost saving measure. When it's your only option, it's a constant reminder of how poor you are.
We've found that some kids were so worried about someone at school recognizing that they were wearing their old coat and being teased about it, that they would rather have no coat than risk someone recognizing their used coat.
Another reason: self esteem. The child is choosing his own coat. The color he wants. The style he wants. It is their very own coat. And that is exciting. Empowering. Esteem building.
When you are in The Cozy Ski Chalet and see a child handing a coat to their grandmother as they rub the lining saying, "Feel this Grammy! It's so soft and cuddly!" And another mother and child going back and forth having narrowed it down to two of the child's favorite color options, you know that it's about more than having a piece of fabric to keep you warm.
Thank you Ampacet for doing so much more than keeping our children warm.