It’s typical for City Connects Coordinators in colder cities like Springfield and Minneapolis to hold coat drives, often working with community partners, to collect coats as well as hats, scarves, gloves, and boots for students.
“We do a lot of clothing drives,” Sarah White, the coordinator at Boston’s Winship School, says. “In the fall, we do a uniform swap; at the end of the year, we’ll do another one. And the program Caps for Kids sends over 300 hats a year.”
But White noticed that while coat drives are great for gathering coats for younger children in kindergarten or first grade, the drives are less likely to pull in coats that fit fifth graders.
White first turned to her school’s Parent Council, and they helped collect fifth-grade sized coats. But it wasn’t enough, so White kept working to ensure her students had what they needed to stay warm.
She went online. “I found a Buy Nothing Facebook group.”
Based in neighborhoods, Buy Nothing groups are collections of people who agree to give away items they aren’t using at no cost.
“I wrote a post that explained what we needed.”
She put the post on the Buy Nothing Facebook page — and coats poured in.
So did board games, art supplies, sneakers, clothes, and dollhouse accessories.
White has set up a closet and arranged the coats so that when students come, they feel like they’re shopping.
“Clothing is one of our strong points,” White says of her school. And her new way of tapping community members via Facebook is a welcome addition to the already-fruitful partnerships with parents and community agencies.
Now, instead of going without coat, clothes, and boots, students can get what they need and focus on English, science, and math.