By Sarah Rafique
Killeen Daily Herald
Michael Dewees knows a new pair of shoes and a jacket go a long way when it comes to making low-income children feel a little bit better about themselves. And a lot warmer.
“With shoes and jackets, a lot of us who are blessed take these things for granted,” said Dewees, executive director for Communities in Schools Greater Central Texas Inc. “To these kids, and especially the parents of these kids, it’s a big issue. Their self-esteem is lowered when they don’t have the types of things that everyone else does.”
Dewees said there is always a need for donations of jackets and coats during winter.
The nonprofit serves at-risk students across seven school districts, including Killeen, Copperas Cove, Temple, Belton, Salado, Florence and Cameron. It received about 100 jackets and coats from the Harker Heights Rotary Club last month. All the jackets were given to students who needed them, along with about 680 pairs of shoes.
“They consider us one of their partners and know we can get these out to children who really need them (because they) outgrow their old jackets or they’re ripped to shreds,” Dewees said.
The Killeen Independent School District has about 1,200 students identified as homeless, said Diana Miller, assistant superintendent.
“Several community organizations held coat drives for our students earlier this year,” she said. “KISD is grateful for the support of our community partners.”
Tina Capito, co-director of My Tutor and More, said her organization tries to help the Killeen Independent School District’s Homeless Awareness Response Program throughout the year.
“We donated a ton of used jackets and delivered them right before Christmas break,” Capito said. “Kid-sized clothes are harder to keep in stock. ... Last time I was (at HARP’s clothing closet), the shelves didn’t have as many long pants for grades one through five.”
Dewees said providing warm clothing during winter helps the nonprofit with its mission of keeping at-risk children in school.
“To get a jacket or a new pair of shoes, it really lifts their spirits and helps in their self-esteem and then they improve in school,” Dewees said.