By Corrine McCallum
Coats for Character, a program that makes sure grade school students have a chance to stay warm during the winter is one of the easiest programs he has worked with, said founder Clarence Russell at the Winona School Board Meeting on Thursday Nov. 21.
Winona citizen Clarence Russell has been running the Coats for Character program for nine years. “The program was designed to help all of the kids in need of a winter jacket in the elementary grade,” Russell said.
Russell said it is also one of the easiest programs he has fundraised for. “I raise the money locally, so then the jacket money can be spent locally,” he said. Russell said he tries to raise around $2,000 a year to supply 900 jackets to school kids.
Russell came up with the idea to make sure kids who were in need of the jacket weren’t made fun of for being less fortunate.
“Every student does something of the character building nature to earn a jacket in the classroom,” Russell said. It is not just the poor kids that are receiving the jackets, its any student who does something character building and then is rewarded with the jacket. “Because the kids have to do something of the character building nature, which is what the school teaches as well as parents, so it just kind of reinforces that.”
The students who are building their character are not the only ones receiving the benefits of it, the teachers are too, Russell said. “We found that the teachers recognized that they were role models.”