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Third Annual Coat Drive

Yesterday, thanks to an amazing partnership with Columbus Division of Police, AEP Ohio, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, Columbus City Schools, and Macy's (Polaris Fashion Place), we kicked off our Third Annual Coat Drive, which puts coats directly into the hands of more than 600 kids who need them, all across the city. It's one of the best events we do, and we thought you might enjoy learning about the history of it....

When Starfish was established in the Summer of 2018, we talked to CPD officers about what we could do to help them to help others. "We need winter coats for kids," we heard time and again. Standing on the sweltering streets of the Hilltop and South Linden, patrol officers were even then thinking about kids without coats. It was that big of a problem, and it affected them that much. As you can imagine, that got our attention.

We didn't have much in the way of resources that first year, but we did have something we still have now: supporters who believe in us. So, between donations of money and coats, we were able to give CPD officers 300 coats. Most of these were not new, so we washed the gently used ones in our homes, happily getting them ready for donation. The officers were incredibly appreciative, and they were dispersed faster than we could have imagined.

In 2019, we had the support of our very good friends at AEP Ohio, who help us in many ways, including by sponsoring Cops & Barbers. Their belief in us came early and has been unshakeable, and we love them. They enabled us to purchase more than 500 brand new coats last year. Most of these children have never owned a new coat, so we all were careful to keep the tags on so they'd know that this one was different.

As you can imagine, 2020 presented its own challenges for our coat drive, but we have the best, most flexible partners. CPD was always there, waiting to give out coats, helping us every step of the way. AEP Ohio was supportive and trusting. Columbus Recs and Parks helped us partner with Columbus City Schools, and we developed a new partnership with Macy's that will get its own post in a few days because it's so beautiful.

All this to say that many people came together to make it possible for all of us to start handing out coats across the city yesterday. It was a snowy, cold night, and we could not have been happier. One officer, who had spent years on CPD's Freeway Unit, and who'd become accustomed to hating the snow, actually enjoyed it last night because it was now connected to such a positive experience.

We had three sites yesterday. At South Linden and on the East Side, parents drove up to receive coats for their children. In Wedgewood, on the West Side, officers went door to door with a teacher from Eakin Elementary to drop off the coats personally. Precincts across the city also received bags of coats that were prepared by the 614cadets. Patrol officers will be able to hand them out to children in need.

Yesterday, as officers in Wedgewood put a coat on a little girl she sighed and said, "It's so WARM!"

Thank you to CPD, AEP Ohio, Columbus Recs & Parks, Columbus City Schools, Macy's, and all the volunteers who made this happen. It is such a blessing to be able to make a difference like this, and we do not take it for granted. We really appreciate all of you.


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