It’s early December, and temperatures are falling below freezing across the Tennessee Valley. But thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers, and some generous people, hundreds of kids in north Alabama won’t have to worry about whether they will have a warm coat this winter.
Coats for Kids has been collecting coats for Alabama families for more than a decade. Toni Terrell has spearheaded the drive for the past 12 years. She has used her position as Program Director at WHRP FM to encourage folks in and around Huntsville to help with her cause.
"I'm excited about it!” she says. "People need coats! And if this day doesn't remind you how necessary it is to have a coat, I don't know what will."
She has collected thousands of coats over the years – almost 900 this year alone. The outpouring of support warms her heart on this cold, wet December day. "Don't make me cry. Don't make me cry..."
WAAY 31 is proud to have had a hand in this year’s coat drive, a partnership Terrell says helped get the word out. "With the broadcast on television and radio combined – we got this! Yeah! So, I'm excited!"
Today, she is standing in front of racks of new and gently used coats at Copeland Cleaners in Huntsville. Every year the employees donate hours of their own time – on a weekend – to clean the coats before they’re given to deserving children. Manager Quentin Mooney says it is the employees’ way of giving something back to the community during the holiday season. "They enjoy it. We come out on a weekend and get it all done. Everybody volunteers their time to come in and get them cleaned."
The cleaned coats are being distributed to various charities in the Huntsville area, including the Harris Home for Children and Northwest Community Services.