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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hundreds of children receive gifts of warmth

Monday, November 1, 2010

Youth Development Commission Board member Dominique Gibson helps Raelynn Boler, 3, of Greencastle choose a new coat during the Putnam County Coats for Kids distribution Saturday. Looking on his Raelynn's mother, Dodie Boler. Banner Graphic/JAMIE BARRAND
GREENCASTLE -- The last few years have been difficult for Dodie Boler.

The Greencastle woman had worked for many years as a certified nurse's assistant when she was involved in a serious car accident in the summer of 2005.

"I broke my femur," Boler said.

At the time of her accident and for several years after, Boler was married. Her daughter Raelynn was born in December 2006.

Now, Boler is going though a divorce -- and is finding it hard to make ends meet.

"I only get 200 and some dollars a month for child support," she said. "It doesn't go far."

One of Boler's main concerns was how she was going to afford to purchase a winter coat for her daughter. Then she heard about the Putnam County Coats for Kids program.

Boler's daughter was one of several hundred local children who received coats Saturday during the program's distribution day.

"I think it's pretty nice," Boler said. "It's a really good thing."

Boler said needing the assistance of the program made her realize how important it is to make donations whenever possible.

"All the coats my daughter has ever outgrown I've donated," she said.

Local Coats for Kids coordinator Linda Merkel said 200 families received coats at the distribution.

"That's families, though," she said. "Some of them had one child, some had six or seven."

There were about 700 coats and 200 lightweight jackets available at the distribution. At the end of the day, 250 coats and 33 jackets remained.

"We had a lot of people who came and got coats for family members or people in their neighborhoods where the parents just couldn't get to the distribution," Merkel said. "Transportation was definitely an issue."

Merkel said the majority of the people who came to the distribution lived in the Greencastle School District.

"We have to find ways to do outreach and get to the outlying areas, to South Putnam and North Putnam," she said. "We need to reach those families -- we know those families are in need. So we're going to do some revisiting this year and come up with ideas on how to do that."

Although she is concerned that families in need may have missed their opportunity to get coats for their children, Merkel is still thrilled with the growth of the local Coats for Kids program.

"What we did was wonderful," she said. "The smiling faces were worth everything."

Community involvement is key for the Coats for Kids program. FB Distro was a major partner, donating 800 hats, gloves and mittens to go with all coats, as well as 400 coats.

"They're a great partner," Merkel said.

The number of volunteers was also up this year.

"We had 40 volunteers this year," she said. "We've never had that many. We had Extension Homemakers, students from DePauw and members of South Putnam's student council and basketball team."

The coats that are left are mostly sizes 5-12, Merkel said. The smaller sizes went quickly, and none are left.

Any family still in need of children's coats for winter may call Merkel at 653-9342.

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A great story!

"Inasmuch as you have done for the least of these,

you have done it for me." (this is from memory so

it is not exact according to the scriptures.)

May God bless all those who responded to this

most worthy cause!

Mother Sue

-- Posted by mothersue on Mon, Nov 1, 2010, at 12:53 PM

I always donate my 3 year old son's previous year winter coat. It is so nice to see it is going for a good cause. I know times are tough right now and no child should have to worry about not having a coat. Great story and great cause!!

-- Posted by ruserious27 on Tue, Nov 2, 2010, at 4:18 AM

This is, indeed, a great story. And God Bless all of the volunteers who helped with this and expecially Linda Merkel who has worked tireless for several years doing such wonderful work!

-- Posted by interested party on Tue, Nov 2, 2010, at 7:58 AM

One idea to help would be to make sure plenty of notice is given about the distribution with a reminder the day before. I only heard of the distribution the day before and it was a tiny slip of paper attached to a whole stack of papers my child brought home from school on Friday, the day before the distribution.

-- Posted by sendmailthere on Sat, Nov 6, 2010, at 8:36 PM

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