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Students embrace season of giving through Coats for Kids drive

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PEPPERELL — In an effort to make sure that every child has a warm coat this winter, students at the Varnum Elementary School in Pepperell are doing their part to help those most in need by participating in Anton’s Cleaners 11th Annual Coats for Kids drive.

Varnum Elementary School students have organized a coat drive to collect adult and children’s coats, which will be donated to the Coats for Kids program. With over 230 schools participating in the drive throughout eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, the efforts of the local students are crucial to the success of the program. Last year, nearly two-thirds of the 64,603 coats that were donated came in through the school program.

All of the elementary and middle schools that have registered for the drive are eligible to compete in the School Rewards Program, which awards valuable prizes to the three elementary and three middle schools that collect the most coats based on a coats-per-pupil ratio.

Coats for Kids’ Supporting Partners provide prizes and gifts for the winning schools in the Schools Rewards Program. This year’s Supporting Partners include Citizens Bank, Graham Communications and Package Supply Corporation.

Once collected, Coats for Kids Distribution Partners, Massachusetts Community Action Programs, Salvation Army, Cradle to Crayons and Southern New Hampshire Services, ensure that coats get to those who cannot afford one during the cold weather months.

“Our goal has always been this: Anyone who needs a coat will have one,” said Anton.

Anton’s Cleaners’ Coat for Kids program is the largest coat drive of its kind in New England. In the first ten years of the program, Anton’s Cleaners cleaned more 317,315 coats, representing more than $3.1 million in cleaning costs donated. The goal for this year’s program, which began Oct. 1 and runs through Jan. 15, is to collect and distribute 55,000 coats.

Coats for Kids is supported by its promotional partners, Fox 25 and the Boston Bruins.

To sign up as a corporate partner or for more information, visit antons.com or call the Coats for Kids hotline at 1 (800) 659-0069.