Winter coat drive for kids still in need of donations

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PITTSFIELD — There are still about 250 youngsters in the Pittsfield area who are seeking warm winter coats but have not yet been sponsored by a donor, according to Deborah Leonczyk, executive director of Berkshire Community Action Council.

Donors can pick an anonymous child to sponsor, buy a warm winter coat and drop it off at the BCAC offices on East Street. Or they can sponsor a child by writing a check, and BCAC staff will go out and purchase the coat, hat, mittens and scarf.

During Giving Tuesday, BCAC raised more than $3,000 at the Hotel on North and through its online giving portal, Leonczyk said. But there is still some need out there, and the folks at BCAC are determined to finish the job of keeping kids warm.

If push comes to shove and sponsors do not arise, Leonczyk said the agency will come up with the money somehow, but that it would detract from a different program that helps the working poor.

"We will never let a child go cold," she said.

During last year's holiday season, when donations of kids' winter coats for the annual Elf Program fell well short of the need, BCAC staffers went out and bought about 500 coats, nearly cleaning out stores in the area, to make sure that no child went without.

Every year, BCAC distributes donated gifts and warm clothes for children of families in need during the holiday season. The client families apply for the help, and donors come in and pick an anonymous family or child to sponsor and donate the warm clothes needed. Some donate toys as well. After mid-November, the client families can come in and pick up the donations.

Each year, about 2,000 children up to age 12 benefit from warmer clothing with winter coming on, said Aleta Moncecci, deputy director of BCAC.

The families note on their registration cards the ages and sizes of the children, and what toys they like.

"We focus on warm clothing," Moncecci said. "We have to keep the kids warm in the winter."

Anyone who wants to to help can visit the BCAC offices at 1531 East St. in Pittsfield.

BCAC was incorporated in 1966 as the anti-poverty agency for Berkshire County. BCAC works with the community to find creative and sustainable solutions that promote economic stability and alleviate the destabilizing effects of poverty on the Berkshires.

For more information or to sponsor a child, call BCAC at 413-445-4503 in Pittsfield.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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