Boston Children Get New Winter Coats Just in Time for the Snow

‘This is a really big deal for a lot of people,’ said Toni Cromwell, a 63-year-old resident of the Gallivan development and volunteer at the Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center distribution site. ‘You see a lot of these kids wearing coats that don’t fit them or are from last year. When people come to get coats it’s because they need it.’

At the center’s site along Blue Hill Avenue, volunteers handed out coats giving the youths a selection of colors, with many of the girls choosing pink jackets.

‘I wanted the pink coat because it matches my room,’ said 8-year-old Kassandra Llanso, who was at the Dorchester site with her mother Idelsy Ruiz from Hyde Park.

‘This is a great thing they are doing,’ Ruiz said. ‘It helps out a lot with this economy.’

The stream of children and their parents was constant in Dorchester, with many of the kids testing out their new coats in the center’s parking lot, playing in the snow and doing it warmly.

‘I’m on both sides of this,’ said Myrca Augustin, a 31-year-old resident of the Franklin Field development and volunteer at the Dorchester site. ‘Having new winter coats is a big deal and makes a big difference. It keeps the kids warm so they don’t get sick and won’t miss school.’

Along with the site in Dorchester, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and an army of volunteers were in East Boston distributing coats to students.

‘Every child deserves a winter coat to keep them warm and healthy during these cold winter months,’ Menino in a statement. ‘I want to thank the hard-working men and women of the BHA for undertaking this hard work. Without their efforts, this ambitious project would be impossible.’

BHA students who didn’t get coats Saturday will not be left out in the cold.

The housing authority, along with the Boston Foundation and their partner Operation Warm, plan to go door-to-door at the other housing developments throughout the city, with a goal of distributing more than 5,000 coats.

‘At a time when food prices are rising, and heating oil prices are setting all-time highs, the difference something as simple as a new, warm, winter coat can make cannot be underestimated,’ Paul S. Grogan, president and CEO of the Boston Foundation, said in a statement.’This effort demonstrates the power of working together to meet critical winter needs, and serves as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done.’

Operation Warm, a national organization based in Pennsylvania, says it will distribute its one-millionth coat this year.

By Patrick D. Rosso, Town Correspondent

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