Susie’s Coats for Kids is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to providing winter apparel to children in need throughout Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. Over its 16 years of operation, Susie’s Coats has collected and distributed more than 30,000 warm apparel items to families within our region.
Just this winter, Susie’s Coats provided an impressive total of more than 5,400 items of winter apparel to, as founder Susan Perry calls them, “our children.” According to Perry, the language used to refer to children assisted by the organization is important — Perry does not consider children who receive help from Susie’s Coats as “the children; they’re our children. As a community, they are our children.”
The inspiration behind Susie’s Coats
For Perry, the plights of “our precious, adorable, and most deserving children” are personal. When asked to share her inspiration for founding the organization, Perry cited her own experience of growing up in poverty as a primary source of motivation. As Perry and her siblings faced a constant battle with homelessness and displacement, they relied on their mother, Norah, to help them navigate their situation.
In an effort to combine her goals to be of service to the community and honor her mother, on her 50th birthday, Perry created Susie’s Coats for Kids. During this first year, Perry, along with her daughter, visited downtown Toledo with 50 coats to distribute. This first experience was enough to confirm the need for winter apparel in the community, as the coats Perry had brought were gone within minutes.
Since then, Perry has established 17 “Coat Closets” around Northwest Ohio for Toledo public and parochial schools. The purpose of Coat Closets is to provide an initial inventory of hats, coats and gloves so they are readily available at school for children who are in need. One of Susie’s future goals for the organization is to have each school in Toledo equipped with a “Coat Closet,” as these play a fundamental role in making warm apparel accessible to families in need.
Distribution days are another method by which Susie’s Coats provides winter apparel to families in need. With help from various community partners such as Hannah’s Socks, Bags of Love, Buff City Soap, Toledo Public Schools, Anita’s Closet Pajamas, Marco’s Pizza, and the Toledo Fire Department, the Susie’s Coats team is able to host these distribution events where families are able to choose which winter apparel they would like.
Winter apparel distributed at these events caters to a range of ages, from infants to 18-year-olds. Susie’s Coats volunteers work hard to make distribution events special for those who attend, as they work with families one-on-one to help them choose items they would like and accompany them in the long lines that often form during the events.
Regardless of how a child receives apparel from Susie’s Coats, though, the family can be sure that the items are new and will be provided without presenting proof of financial need.
How to help Susie’s Coats for Kids
Supporting Susie’s Coats does more than just keep children warm. As Perry summarized in a statement during her interview: “If we can keep our children warm, they feel safe. And when they feel safe, they are much more hopeful about their tomorrow.”
Readers who would like to contribute to the mission of Susie’s Coats can do so in several different ways. One option is to refer a family to the organization. Susie’s Coats also has an Amazon Wish List on their website with hats and gloves. Monetary donations can be made online or by mailing a check to the Susie’s Coats P.O. Box 114, Woodville, OH 43469. To donate coats directly to the organization, contact them at 419-304-3296 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a pick-up.