WINTER WARMTH: Students Helping Students

Students around the metro are helping other students stay warm this season. This is the sixth year for the winter warmth drive, and more students than ever are participating.

The goal is to keep kids warm, but organizers hope to accomplish something else along the way.

An assembly at Stilwell Junior High starts like any other. Then, The Student Council surprises the crowd with a skit. Carter Oakley says, “Our Stilwell goal is 300 items. That’s 50 per team. Think you guys can do it?”

The Stilwell Student Council wrote, produced and acted out a skit to kick off the 2013 Winter Warmth Drive. Oakley says, “It’s where these 3 girls have all this warm stuff, but they don’t know what to do with it. And, then somebody explains the winter warmth drive to them.”

Stilwell is one of 23 schools participating in the drive. Tim Gaynor started the collection six years ago at his son’s school in Waukee. Now 17,000 students in West Des Moines, Waukee, Johnston, Urbandale and Des Moines Christian are collecting items. Gaynor says, “It’s amazing how this has grown, and I’m very excited how these students have taken this under their belt and they’ve owned it. And, they’ve really allowed this to grow in their community.”

The students are just collecting coats. They’re also gathering boots, gloves, scarves anything to keep people warm this winter. The items can be new or gently used. Some will go to a church and three agencies. Lee Towe with Freedom For Youth Ministries says, “Yesterday we had a girl in bare feet, so there’s a great need for hats and coats.”

Twenty schools will also get cold weather clothing. King Elementary Success Case Manager Mike Thompson says, “We advertise it and pass out flyers, so we make sure that everybody in our neighborhood gets a coat.”

The goal is to collect and give out more than 4,000 items and teach the kids a lesson along the way. Gaynor says, “The drives are about 100 percent run within the schools. It’s up to the students to do the marketing, advertising, project management. They’re truly in charge of it. They’re learning leadership skills.”

The Winter Warmth Drive starts today and runs through November 7th.