Coat drive to provide warm feelings Friday Coat drive to provide warm feelings Friday

The coats are sorted, washed and hung just in time for the Crossroads Community Center annual holiday dinner event and Kids Care Coat Drive on Friday, Jan. 9. The community event welcomes kids, teens and adults to gather for a hot meal and hand pick a warm coat of their choice.

The coats are sorted, washed and hung just in time for the Crossroads Community Center annual holiday dinner event and Kids Care Coat Drive on Friday, Jan. 9. The community event welcomes kids, teens and adults to gather for a hot meal and hand pick a warm coat of their choice.

The Kids Care Coat Drive began in 2004, when Bellevue student, Rick Teegarden, then a sixth grader, attended a local leadership conference. There he learned about Youth Link and the Teen Closet project, a clothing bank program operated by Bellevue Youth Link, in partnership with Plato’s Closet and the World Impact Network. On the last Monday of every month, Teen Closet hosts a distribution event at the World Impact Network facility in Bellevue for the youth in the area who are in need of clothing.

“Despite what people may think, poverty and low-income levels in Bellevue are relevant,” explained Patrick Alina, the Youth Link Coordinator. “Teen Closet began with a need. A lot of people were knocking on the city’s doors looking for resources and support. We addressed the need.”

To increase the number of coats donated during the holiday season, Rick approached his leadership team at Chinook Middle School with the idea of holding a coat drive. The first coat drive was organized in 2004.

Each day after school, Rick would gather the daily donations and sort through the coats. He would do loads of laundry between studying. With little space and no funding, the clothing donations found their place in the living room of the Teegarden’s house.

Together, with help from his mother and younger brother, Reagan, they would prepare for the big distribution event.

Encouraged by the donations from the first year, Rick decided to expand the coat drive to additional schools and businesses. He brought the idea before the Bellevue School District and the city of Bellevue. With the support of Youth Link and the city, he officially launched the Kids Care Coat Drive, now in its fourth year.

In recent years, the Factoria Security Self Storage facility has donated space during the collection months to store the coats.

“This year we have a large group of volunteers to sign up to help sort, hang, and distribute coats,” Rick explained, who is relieved to have the helping hand. “We’re hoping to collect a good amount even with the current economy the way it is.”

More than 3,000 coats have been collected and distributed throughout the area. Rick hopes the number of donations continue to climb long after he has graduated and gone off to college.

He plans to hand the responsibility of the coat drive over to his younger brother, who already is paving the way for success.

The fifth-grader at Woodridge Elementary School has helped spread the word about the coat drive to the students at his school.

To donate or volunteer at the distribution event, contact Rick Teegarden at KidsCareCoatDrive@comcast.net. For more information visit www.youthlink.com.

Lindsay Larin can be reached at llarin@bellevuenews.us or 425-453-4602.

The coats are sorted, washed and hung just in time for the Crossroads Community Center annual holiday dinner event and Kids Care Coat Drive on Friday, Jan. 9. The community event welcomes kids, teens and adults to gather for a hot meal and hand pick a warm coat of their choice.

The Kids Care Coat Drive began in 2004, when Bellevue student, Rick Teegarden, then a sixth grader, attended a local leadership conference. There he learned about Youth Link and the Teen Closet project, a clothing bank program operated by Bellevue Youth Link, in partnership with Plato’s Closet and the World Impact Network. On the last Monday of every month, Teen Closet hosts a distribution event at the World Impact Network facility in Bellevue for the youth in the area who are in need of clothing.

“Despite what people may think, poverty and low-income levels in Bellevue are relevant,” explained Patrick Alina, the Youth Link Coordinator. “Teen Closet began with a need. A lot of people were knocking on the city’s doors looking for resources and support. We addressed the need.”

To increase the number of coats donated during the holiday season, Rick approached his leadership team at Chinook Middle School with the idea of holding a coat drive. The first coat drive was organized in 2004.

Each day after school, Rick would gather the daily donations and sort through the coats. He would do loads of laundry between studying. With little space and no funding, the clothing donations found their place in the living room of the Teegarden’s house.

Together, with help from his mother and younger brother, Reagan, they would prepare for the big distribution event.

Encouraged by the donations from the first year, Rick decided to expand the coat drive to additional schools and businesses. He brought the idea before the Bellevue School District and the city of Bellevue. With the support of Youth Link and the city, he officially launched the Kids Care Coat Drive, now in its fourth year.

In recent years, the Factoria Security Self Storage facility has donated space during the collection months to store the coats.

“This year we have a large group of volunteers to sign up to help sort, hang, and distribute coats,” Rick explained, who is relieved to have the helping hand. “We’re hoping to collect a good amount even with the current economy the way it is.”

More than 3,000 coats have been collected and distributed throughout the area. Rick hopes the number of donations continue to climb long after he has graduated and gone off to college.

He plans to hand the responsibility of the coat drive over to his younger brother, who already is paving the way for success.

The fifth-grader at Woodridge Elementary School has helped spread the word about the coat drive to the students at his school.

To donate or volunteer at the distribution event, contact Rick Teegarden at KidsCareCoatDrive@comcast.net. For more information visit www.youthlink.com.

Lindsay Larin can be reached at llarin@bellevuenews.us or 425-453-4602.