There was plenty of warmth, good tidings and smiles going around the Family Support Network facilities on West F Street recently, as the organization hosted its annual Coats and Cookies festivities on Dec. 9 and 10.
With support from the community throughout the year, the local service organization was able to open their doors to those in need, residents coming in for gently used warm coats to help get them through the cold months ahead. Also given out were mittens and there were plenty of refreshments to enjoy plus a chance for every youngster attending to put in a ticket for a drawing for toys.
“Every single coat was from the community, they were donated, they were gently used,” explained Family Support Network Manager Shellie LaMar. “Even our cookies were donated by a local family.”
Oak Valley Hospital District also helped provide refreshments.
By Thursday afternoon, the second of the two distribution days, more than 1,000 coats had been tried on and taken to new homes.
“This is our third annual event and people look forward to it,” LaMar added.
The number of coats donated by the community and, in turn, chosen by those in need more than doubled since last year’s event.
Program officials said people started donating in January and they just kept collecting the gently used coats all year long waiting for the Coats and Cookies event.
LaMar said it is a great program for families that may not have the funds available but need warm coats for their children and themselves this winter. Even more fun and exciting for the kids, she added, was the room full of toys and gifts donated, with nearly every child likely to get a toy through the ticket drawing.
Many of the toys came from Oakdale Golf and Country Club members, LaMar said, along with general community contributions.
“Our mission is health and wellness,” LaMar said. “But even more than that, it’s community spirit and having a relationship with the families.”
Events like the popular Coats and Cookies help the Family Support Network staff do just that, connect in a very unique yet necessary way to the community they serve.