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Keeping kids warm this winter with the help of donated coats

By CAROLINE GABLE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The generosity of others is doing more than just warming the hearts of children - it's literally keeping them warm.

As the temperature drops, the demand for winter coats rises - but disadvantaged children may be left out in the cold.

Thanks to Herb Philipsons and the United Way, 100 new coats will now be on the backs of kids in need. 25 coats were given to The Boys and Girls Club in Utica on Lansing Street on Wednesday.

The warm, fuzzy feeling is being spread throughout the Mohawk Valley and the greater Utica area.

Susan Woods, Director of Marketing and Communications at the United Way says the remaining 75 coats will go to others in need this holiday season.

"This is a gift that's worth more than $5,000 at the retail level," Woods said. "They did not have to do this, but they gladly did so."

Aaron Graham works at the Boys and Girls Club and he says the need is great.

"You'll see a number of kids who get off the school bus with just summer jackets or a summer sweater, and some without hats mittens or anything," Graham said. "I've had a number or kids, even tweens (close to teenagers) come to me and say, can I take something from the lost and found, just to take it home."

But with a new coat, Graham says he sees a new sense of pride in children that come to the club. Some won't even hang their coats up. Instead, they carry it wherever they go.

Wayne Baran, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club, says most people don't know how tough winter is for the kids he sees on a daily basis.

"I think that people would be surprised of the need for the kids for winter clothing," Baran said. "Sometimes people will get off the bus from homes that are socio-economically poor, and it's vivid, the need for these kids to have winter clothing."

The United Way is working to increase its donors, and they say even if you can only give a little, a little goes a long way.

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