Keeping our community warm

I was not born in Edmonton, but I can proudly say that I ventured outside the day Edmonton was named the coldest place on Earth. I would be lying if I told you I could imagine being able to accomplish the things I needed to that day without a warm coat. Of course Edmonton isn’t that cold every day, but as soon as the temperature hits 20 below I am bundled, drinking tea at work, and huddled under a warm blanket at home. I’m fortunate to have those luxuries.

Yes, having a warm home, full-time employment, and a winter coat is a luxury. One that 120,000 people living in poverty in the Alberta Capital Region may not have this winter. This month, they may have to choose between purchasing food for their family to supplement the food hamper they received from the Food Bank and being able to pay the heat or power bill.

Take that stressful situation and add a plummeting forecast for your child to walk to school in. They have no winter coat let alone a toque or mitts, and with no extra money to purchase coats for you or your family, it looks as though it will be a very long winter.

I worked for the Edmonton Boys & Girls Club before coming to United Way. There were so many days that I had youth walk into the Club in the middle of winter wearing only a hoodie or two. These kids were walking blocks upon blocks or waiting for buses. Often, if it was too cold to wait for the bus without a coat they just wouldn’t go to school that day.

People may not realize the difference a coat can make in the life of a person living in poverty. Warm coats allow parents to get out and enjoy winter activities with their children. They make securing outdoor employment a possibility and, for those without homes, a good coat can mean survival.

The need for coats is great in the Edmonton area. Every year Coats for Kids & Families sets out to meet that need and, every year, our community rises to the challenge. The people that make the decision to donate a coat to this vital program are making a real difference in the region. We couldn’t do it without you.

For information on the Coats for Kids & Families program and how you can get involved, visit