ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - It’s hard to imagine stepping outside without a warm winter coat. But children all over St. Louis are waiting at bus stops and walking to and from school – freezing – because they cannot afford coats.
“It’s hard as a mother. As a single mother,” Miesha Gray, 24, said.
Gray is the mother of four small children. She said the extreme temperatures made for an extremely difficult walk for her daughters to and from the bus stop.
"’Mommy, I'm cold.’ And it kind of gets under a mother's skin because you want to do everything you can for your children," Gray said.
St. Louis Public Schools was able to step in and provide Gray’s children with the winter essentials.
"We have coats. We have hats. We have gloves. We have scarves,” SLPS Students-in-Transition Director Deidra Murray-Thomas said.” There's no need for a child to walk around without a coat."
Murray-Thomas said parents whose children attend school in the district can contact her office. She said in the past month, more than 200 families have sought help.
"I appreciate them being here for me," Murray-Thomas said.
The coats are brand new. The St. Louis chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women collects the coats year-round for community coat closets in the St. Louis area. In addition to serving SLPS, the NCJW has opened community coat closets for Ferguson-Florissant, University City, Normandy, Ritenour and the Jewish Family & Children’s Services.
“It’s very disturbing to see how many schools that we can still be in. The need is really great,” NCJW President Darien Arnstein said.
A coat closet will be opened a second closet for a KIPP St. Louis elementary school in February.
The coats are also distributed to children at the organization’s Back 2 School Store. The summer event provides new clothing and school supplies to children for the school year.