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Elks Lodge donates $10k in coats to Oregon kids

The annual coat drive is playing out differently this year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

HILLSBORO, Ore. — The Elks Lodge is donating $10,000 worth of coats and jackets to kids in need.

Kiley Hudnall, a senior at Forest Grove High School, has been a volunteer with the coat drive event for about five years. 

"Really fun, usually we have the kids in here, taking them shopping, making them feel really happy," Hudnall said. 

In previous years, kids could come in to try coats on and choose the one they liked. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Elks Lodge volunteers had to shift gears.

The Hillsboro School District gave the Elks Lodge information about kids and their coat sizes. Volunteers then spent about four hours on Saturday packing coats to send to schools on Monday. School counselors will distribute the coats to children on the list who are in need.

Sue Seaver has been a member of the Elks Lodge for more than 20 years and was inspired to start the coat drive about eight years ago.

"While driving to and from work, I would see kids out on the sidewalks, waiting for school buses, and they were freezing to death. They had no coats on," Seaver said. "I have two grandchildren of my own and I just didn't want to see kids out there for whatever reason going cold."

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The coat drive started with donations, but is now funded through interest earned on an Elk's Lodge investment.

Seaver and co-organizers used $10,000 this year to purchase discounted coats from stores such as Macy's and Walmart.

"It's really important for people to reach out and help each other, especially right now," Seaver said.

Seaver's grandson has volunteered alongside her the last few years. 

"I feel like I should help out the community," Jordan Sherwood, 13, said.

Other volunteers like Helen Rachfal echoed that message.

"That's why I joined—to do good things," Rachfal said.

"At the end of the day, it is so great seeing all of these coats gone and knowing that they went to a kid who needed it," Hudnall said.

The Elks Lodge does a number of community service events throughout the year, including an upcoming Christmas Basket Program this December for families.  

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