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Program warms hearts and bodies: LouVon Family Foundation in 14th year of Coats for Kids distribution

BY BRUCE MILLS bruce@theitem.com
Posted 12/11/19

For 34 years now, the Rubye J. Johnson Head Start Learning Center on Lafayette Drive has had some sort of winter jacket drive for preschoolers.

That tradition continued Monday with a Coats for Kids program put on by the LouVon Family Foundation, …

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Program warms hearts and bodies: LouVon Family Foundation in 14th year of Coats for Kids distribution

Posted

For 34 years now, the Rubye J. Johnson Head Start Learning Center on Lafayette Drive has had some sort of winter jacket drive for preschoolers.

That tradition continued Monday with a Coats for Kids program put on by the LouVon Family Foundation, a nonprofit associated Ted Wilson's Universal Benefits Inc.

Foundation staff members Porche Matthews and Litisha Thames said it's the 14th consecutive year that Universal Benefits and the nonprofit, located at 110 E. Liberty St., have put on the program for the Head Start center along with one school from Sumter School District.

Artrell Brown, the center's family and community engagement specialist, said 100 preschoolers received new coats and that she is delighted to have the partnership.

She was about as excited on Tuesday as preschoolers Kendrah Brown and Datreion Wilson.

Brown, 4, said "it feels good" to get a new coat. She said hers is red and also had an accompanying gold-colored hat.

Wilson, 5, said his coat is blue, and he also received a blue hat.

With temperatures in the mid-70s, neither needed their coats Tuesday but still wore them to school.

"My mom still let me put it on and wear it," Wilson said.

After doling out the early Christmas gifts at the Head Start center, foundation staff went just down the road to give out new coats to 112 students at Crosswell Drive Elementary School.

At both schools, staff selected children based on need and the number of available coats.

Crosswell Principal Shawn Hagerty said the students and everyone at the school appreciated the giving gesture.

The kids loved them, he said, and they, too, donned them Tuesday - even with the warmer temperatures.

"It was a perfect time with the holidays coming up," Hagerty said, "and we have a lot of students who walk to school and walk home since we are such a community-based school."

The winter months can get cold for those walkers, he said.

Foundation staff members said they bought all the coats at Belk, both in Sumter and Columbia, and it's one of their bigger highlights of the year.

"The kids," Matthews said, "just light up when they get their new coat on."