It’s More Than Just a Coat

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Charity Spotlight: This blog post was provided by YWCA NWT, as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.

Cold takes on a whole new meaning in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. With temperatures often dipping below -30C throughout the winter, keeping warm isn’t an option – it’s essential.

Even when faced with this reality, there are kids in Yellowknife who simply do not have a winter coat, and because of this, the YWCA NWT works to keep kids and parents warm by running a Coats for Kids, Parkas for Parents Coat Drive every year, but the need keeps growing.

Yellowknife is home to several newcomer families who have never experienced a cold climate before, let alone a Yellowknife winter. Large families (sometimes with 5, 6, or 7 children) need winter attire to keep them warm and safe. Warm coats or parkas that can withstand -30C temperatures can cost $300 or more—a cost that can be a huge burden for families on limited or low incomes. Because of this, the Coats for Kids drive provides warm gear for anyone who needs it.

In the depths of winter, most people are surprised to learn that skin can freeze in Yellowknife in less than five minutes! Kids are at risk of frostbite and hypothermia, so not only are coats required to keep kids safe during the course of a normal day, they simply can’t enjoy all the winter activities that other kids do. It’s at YWCA NWT that we want to help ensure that all kids have the same opportunities!

How We Keep Kids Warm

Each fall, we partner with several local businesses and recreational facilities including a local sports store, the recreation centre, and arena. Drop off boxes are placed at each location and generous donors can drop off new or gently used coats, toques, mittens, snow pants and boots. Volunteers regularly empty the boxes and staff organize the winter gear according to size, gender and colour. We invite children and parents to browse through the huge selection of winter wear and select what they need. Anyone who needs winter gear is welcome to come, free of charge with no proof of income required. As families shop the selection, we witness children’s eye light up when they see the huge range of coats they can select from—and it’s not long before hands are flying as they sort through the range of coats to choose their favourite!

The YWCA NWT has held this event for more than five years, collecting and distributing hundreds of warm coats and thousands of toques, mittens and boots to keep kids and parents warm and protected during the frigid arctic winter.

Fifty Years of Helping Families in the North

At YWCA NWT, we have been central to lives of northern families since 1966. While we originated from a need to provide affordable housing to single working women, the YWCA has greatly expanded to include providing affordable transitional housing to families, after-school childcare, youth empowerment programs, and of course our Coats for Kids and Parkas for Parents program. It is our mission to help families across the Arctic to make positive changes in their lives, fulfill their potential, and help make their communities stronger.

To learn more about YWCA NWT, or to make a donation, please visit their Charity Profile Page.

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