By Melissa Moore-Randall
As Revere continues to grapple with COVID 19 it has not dampened the mission of one annual holiday event. Coats for Kids is in full swing once again this year trying to bring holiday cheer to Revere families in need. Coats for Kids started four years ago and has morphed into an annual event that has provided coats and toys to the city’s neediest families. City Council President and event co-organizer, Pat Keefe, said “Coats for Kids started by chance during my first year as a councillor when an immigrant family came into City Hall and asked for coats and has taken off since. I ran into Deb Pezcka at the Mayor’s office, and she was teary eyed. When I asked her what was wrong she explained a new resident to Revere, a mom, walked into City Hall looking for help with warm winter clothes for her children. It was tough to realize and see people who live in the same city as you, experiencing such hardships without basic necessities. At that point I partnered up with a few community activists and all around great guys, Mike Digangi and Matt Parlante. We came up with a holiday event to collect as many coats as possible for those in need. At that point Coats for Kids Revere was born, and we had our First Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party at Volare Revere that year.”According to Keefe, the mission of Coats for Kids is pretty simple. “To pay back the good will we have experienced in our lives with helping to collect warm winter wear for the kids and teens of Revere.”
Aside from Keefe, his wife, Jennifer, Digangi, Parlante, and Pezcka, the community has really stepped up to help with the annual event. Each year they partner with one local restaurant to host the event. Last year it was the Revere’s newest restaurant Dryft located along Revere Beach. After last year’s event, Keefe praised co-owner, Michael Aldi, for donating food and the restaurant for the event last year. “He showed unbelievable hospitality opening his heart and arms to us.”
In addition, to the local restaurants who have sponsored the events, Keefe said that their partnerships have grown tremendously. Revere Public Schools Director of Facilities Carl Svendsen, Revere Police School Resource Officer Joe Singer, School Committee member and retired teacher Carol Tye, RPS Supervisor of Attendance and Homeless Education Liaison Doug Goodwin, Revere Public School Guidance Staff, the Mayor’s Office and many more local businesses and the restaurant community have been specifically charitable. “Up until this year it was really one of the winter events we all looked forward to. Who doesn’t like a reason to dress up in Christmas sweaters, go out and be an adult for the evening and give back to those in need.”
In addition to winter coats, the event also accepts and provides toys for local families in need. “The last few years we realized Revere’s annual toy allotment from a different charity drive had been dissolved so we started adding toys as well and have seen tremendous success. We estimate over 400 kids every year receive a coat or some toys from this drive,” said Keefe.
With COVID 19 continuing to keep the city in its grips, the event did continue this year with the hopes to continue the same tradition in getting over 250 coats and enough toys to serve the needs of the City’s families. “Since we cannot have one stand alone event, we have staged drop boxes at the following. Revere City Hall (Broadway), Revere Police Station (Revere Beach Parkway), Volare Revere (Broadway), Dryft Revere (Ocean Avenue), The Marina at the Wharf (North Shore Road), Keller Williams Realty (Pleasant Street) and the Revere Employees Municipal Federal Credit Union (City Hall). We have already been out a few times to empty the bins. Looks like we are still on our way to reach the needs of our community. We have and plan to never miss a child.”
If you know a family in need, Coats for Kids are still taking requests. You can send a message on their Coats for Kids Facebook page. If you cannot get to a drop location there is also a Go Fund Me account to make a donation on their page.