The Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department wrapped up its third annual coat drive Thursday.

The month-long drive collected 200 coats and 60 winter hats, double what the drive brought in last year.

“The coat drive is held every year as an opportunity to get citizens involved in their own community,” said Heather Cox, activities coordinator. “When they donate coats, they’re helping those that live in Harker Heights.”

The drive benefits the Killeen Independent School District’s Homeless Awareness and Response Program.

“We recommend to HARP that the children of Harker Heights be helped first, then whatever is left over goes to others in need,” Cox said, adding that last year 50 children in Heights were designated as homeless. “However, no one child’s need supersedes another child’s need.”

The program identifies students in homeless situations and ensures that families are aware of their rights under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a federal law passed in 1987 that guarantees a student can enroll in school regardless of their housing status. HARP services include immediate enrollment in school, free school meals, transportation, school supplies, clothing, hygiene products and referrals to other community agencies in the area.

According to Killeen ISD officials, about 90 Harker Heights students are enrolled in the HARP program.

“Districtwide, the number being served through HARP is at 837 and it grows daily,” said Diana Miller, assistant superintendant for curriculum and instruction at KISD. “We’ve had as many as 15 to 20 new applications flow into the district office in one day.”

To find out more about the HARP program, call 254-336-0266.

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