The Coats for Kids drive gets bigger and bigger, and this year features something special: a real bobsled.
“We all feel blessed to have a warm place to sleep and a warm coat,” said Geneva Brett, a broker associate for Century 21 M&M and Associates Los Banos, which hosts the drive. “It’s cold here in the valley, and the idea of a little boy or a little girl not having something warm hurts.”
The annual tradition continues this year with a canned food drive that will help feed the community through The Salvation Army. New and gently used coats, and nonperishable food items, are being accepted through Dec. 21 at the Century 21 office, 1155 E. Pacheco Blvd.
Last year, organizers collected more than 1,000 coats. Johnnie’s Cleaners volunteers its time to clean the coats, and Kmart donates coat racks to store them. “All those coats stay in the Los Banos community,” Brett said.
For every nonperishable food item dropped off, community members will receive one raffle ticket to be entered to win a grand prize. The drawing will take place Dec. 21. The top prize is a $250 Visa gift card.
Local organizations and service groups help collect coats for this drive as well. Oasis Community Church collect coats all year long. “It’s become a community effort,” Brett said.
Brett also said that coats will be given to adults or parents who are in need.
“We’re invested in our community,” she said. “We don’t just work here, we care about everybody.”
Organizers are also holding a special event from noon to 3 p.m. Dec 7. For every coat or nonperishable food item brought in, community members can get their picture taken with Santa Claus and a bobsled.
Since Century 21 is a sponsor of the U.S. Olympic bobsled teams, it decided to help support the Coats for Kids campaign in Los Banos by sending the bobsled that is used for promotion and sponsorship. This year’s Christmas parade has a Disney theme, so it became a perfect fit to pair the bobsled, which represents the Disney movie “Cool Runnings,” to the coat and food campaign. “(The movie) is about a group of people who believed,” Brett said.
There are 8,000 Century 21 offices, and the bobsled is coming to Los Banos because Brett believes the CEO of Century 21 believed in the Los Banos office’s vision to help others.
“We are community members who have great heart and compassion within our community,” she said. The bobsled will also make an appearance in the downtown Christmas parade on Dec. 6.
Century 21 has been holding the coat drive since 2009.
“No size is too small and no size is too big,” she said, “because children come in all sizes.”