While COVID-19 has changed the registration and distribution methods, there continues to be a need for PATH’s Coats for Kids.
And as family sign-ups are slower than last year, officials at the nonprofit, known as People Attempting to Help, are concerned some local children might not get the winter coat they need.
PATH Executive Director Andrea Wilson and staff are worried because the level of registration this year is not at the amount it normally would be in year’s past.
Last year, 380 families registered for the program, while so far this year, about 200 families have signed up, Wilson said.
“I wanted to make sure we get the word out to them ... We are taking every precaution we can,” she said. “We want people to know the registration is taking place, we’re wearing masks, and social distancing and filling out the paperwork for them.”
Parents and guardians must bring valid ID of any kind for their child, such as a birth certificate, social security card, school ID or report card, and their own photo ID. The registration period ends this Thursday.
Some of the information requested includes the name, age, and gender of the child in need, along with their coat size. People can get registered at the PATH office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through this Thursday.
PATH has added off-site registration spots to increase opportunities for kids to get winter clothing.
Last Thursday, 53 kids and 17 families were registered to receive a coat during the event at North Tyler Developmental Academy, Cate Carrejo, PATH development administrative assistant, said.
Carrejo also attended a registration event at Promise Academy on Monday to register and set up appointments for a few families.
Maria Carrillo, of Tyler, and along with her son, Jordan Patina, 8, signed up to receive coats for her son as well as her 3-year-old daughter.
“It’s going to help us a lot,” Carrillo said. “It’ll help us with Christmas shopping.”
She said it was the first time they signed up for Coats for Kids.
“I feel blessed,” she said, while Jordan added it feels good to get a new coat.
Wilson explained that all of the donated coats either go through the cleaners or are brand new. This is something that has happened every year since the program began.
“We’re doing everything we can to make people feel as safe and as healthy as possible,” Wilson said.
Coats for Kids, an initiative at least 20 years in operation, has helped a lot of families receive the coats their kids need for the colder months, she said.
Because of COVID-19, the distribution event, which would normally be held in a large gymnasium, has also become a drive-thru pickup in November by appointment.
Wilson said families select the appointment when completing the registration, and that the drive-thru appointments have been organized well.
This year’s distribution will be held at PATH, located at 402 W. Front St. in Tyler, with appointments from Nov. 9 to 12 and Nov. 16 to 19 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon.
People cannot try on the coats this year, and children are not required to attend the distribution to get a coat.
She said PATH has gotten a lot of practice for the Coats for Kids distribution by participating in a drive-thru food pantry distribution since March due to COVID-19 safety precautions.
Those wanting to donate coats can come to the following places: Altra Federal Credit Union locations (2815 WSW Loop 323, 5523 Troup Highway and 8976 S. Broadway Ave.), Comet Cleaners, Hart’s Cleaners, Progress Cleaners, Regency Cleaners, Shannon’s Cleaners, The Cleaning Company, VIP Cleaners and PATH.
Visit pathhelps.org/coatsforkids to donate or find more information.