I am an Army

On a cold night just days before Christmas, a Salvation Army staffer was transporting hundreds of coats to a distribution event. At a traffic light in Boston, a young woman stood shivering in only a sweater as she asked for money. By chance, the driver noticed that on the seat next to him, there was a bag of warm women’s coats. He rolled down the window and asked if she needed a coat. Her discomfort turned to promise as she was given the unexpected gift. The light turned green and the driver went on to prepare for the next day’s distribution.

This encounter is a glimpse into what Anton’s Coats for Kids program has made possible since its inception 25 years ago.

“Every year, we see an increasing need for warm winter coat donations across the state and throughout The Salvation Army’s programs,” said Arthur Anton, who runs the business started by his grandfather. “We recognize that low-income families with growing children are often torn between being able to afford a meal to keep their family fed or a coat to keep their child warm.”

Tens of thousands of coats are distributed to the most vulnerable individuals, helping young children who have outgrown last year’s coats, parents who can spend “coat” money on food or bills instead, elderly neighbors who must stay warm during long commutes on public transit, and individuals such as the woman waiting at a traffic light.

Each winter, the Coats for Kids program collects and cleans coat donations free of charge, allowing The Salvation Army to give more than just warmth to thousands of our neighbors in need. A warm coat provides safety during a cold spell, confidence on a playground, and hope for better days ahead.