Winter has finally arrived. The air is cold and wet. Flu season is in full swing. And people are spending more time inside warm coats and homes.
But what if you don’t have a way to stay warm and can’t afford to provide warmth for your children this winter?
Stephanie Leal, director of Lindsay Healthy Start, said the cold reality is that many Lindsay families can’t afford winter coats and blankets and some families are living in substandard homes without proper insulation from the elements. That means many children struggle to stay warm at night and to and from school.
“We see a lot of children walking to school without jackets,” Leal said. “There is a great need for donations this time of year because many farm workers are in between the grape and citrus seasons, so they have little money to provide for their families.”
One-third of Tulare County children live below the poverty line and about the same number live in single-parent homes. Leal said that although Lindsay Healthy Start holds a clothes drive twice a year, this is the first official coat drive they have held. She said during their last clothes drive on June 14, a total of 120 families received clothing, representing 364 children, about one-third of whom are less than 5 years old. Leal estimates about half of Lindsay Unified School District children will need some kind of support – such as food, clothing, emergency assistance, etc. – before they graduate from high school.
“Unfortunately, we always have more families in need than supplies,” Leal said. “Marie’s support in sponsoring our canned food/clothes drive at the Wellness Center will help many children and their families.”
Leal said she knew of one family where a single mother had five children of her own and when her sister died suddenly, took in her six children because the father was incarcerated.
“Whenever a single parent passes away family members often come together to take care of the children,” she said. “But that kindness comes with a huge financial responsibility that is often too much for them to bear without support.”
That’s why Lindsay Healthy Start is holding a coat drive throughout the rest of winter at the Lindsay Wellness Center. Marie Arroyo, director of the Wellness Center, said the
Wellness Center is a drop off location for anyone in the community wanting to donate coats or blankets.
“There are a lot of children who are considered homeless by the district, meaning they don’t have a stable living situation,” said Arroyo, who also sits on the board of directors for Healthy Kids, Healthy Lindsay. “Healthy Start has identified many children who need coats for the winter.”
The Lindsay Wellness Center is open from 5 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Wellness Center is located at 860 N. Sequoia Drive in Lindsay. For more information, call 559-562-5196.