December 17, 2012

A Story to Warm the Soul this Holiday Season

When sophomore Madison Beckmann was in third grade she started Coat-A-Kid to help keep her classmates warm – here is her story…..

When I was in third grade, I was out on the playground and noticed that a girl in my class did not have a coat on. As a third grader, I did not quite understand why I had several coats in my closet and this girl did not have one. I went home that day and told my mom that she needed a coat. That very evening my mom and I went to the store and bought her a coat. We decided to give the coat to the guidance counselor at the school so the girl would not be embarrassed. The counselor told us that many kids did not have coats and often did not attend school because it was much too cold outside to stand at the bus stop or walk to school. In this moment, Coat-A-Kid was born.

In Coat-A-Kid's first year we collected 37 coats, a number that will always be stuck in my mind because today we give out over 4,000 a year. My mom taught me as a 3rd grader to call other counselors and social workers at schools to tell them we wanted to give coats to needy kids.

In 2007 Coat-A-Kid became a 501c(3) organization. Today we supply thousands of coats to kids throughout the fall and into the spring. Each child is fitted by a volunteer to make sure the coat fits and the child feels good in their new coat.

For me, Coat-A-Kid, offered a perspective that encouraged me to do even more than give coats to needy kids. My mom has been the most supportive person in my efforts to make the world a better place. Rather than telling me that is just how the world is she challenges me to fix it. I began a community service club at my high school because I see the importance of service in the lives of all. Helping others a gift that those of us who can should do as much as possible. In my Junior and Senior years of High School I helped the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis organize 1,500 volunteers in order to package and send 237,000 meals to Africa to commemorate World Food Day. This is now an annual event. In my senior year, I created an initiative to teach high school students to fold paper cranes in order to raise money for the Earthquake in Japan. The school ended up folding over 2,000 paper cranes to send to Japan. This year, I am working with USA field hockey to spread the sport to children who do not have access. Our first event at the beginning of December was a huge success. I am hoping to create a relationship with both USA field hockey and Playworks in Philly in order to get kids active.

My saying is "Go into the world and do well, but more importantly go into the world and do good." I am extremely lucky that I have been able to do all of this and that I have had so much support.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Coat-A-Kid