The hearty campers braving frigid overnight temperatures that dipped into the twenties on Friday night in Newport did so knowing their short-term efforts would have a lasting impact on hundreds of children in need of warm winter coats.
The third annual Delaware KIDS Fund Camping out for Coats drew its biggest crowd of supporters yet – including NFL running back and former Eagle Wendell Smallwood and New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer – with nearly 200 attending the camping kickoff party and four dozen stout souls sticking out the entire evening’s icy experience under a November full moon.
Event organizer Ryan Kennedy, director of the Delaware KIDS Fund and head of marketing and community relations with the real estate development and hospitality company Harvey, Hanna that created the foundation, said that just two years after launching the fundraising drive to buy new coats for needy kids, the campout has raised $100,000. “That translates to 5,000 coats for 5,000 kids at 10 schools,” said Kennedy.
For three years now, the Delaware KIDS Fund has partnered with Operation Warm to bring new winter coats to elementary school children in Newport.
Coat drive expands to Wilmington
The effort has now expanded to supply coats for kids in Wilmington, and Kennedy said a crescendo of this year’s campaign is the delivery of coats on Tuesday, November 19th at Thomas Edison Charter School in the city.
“Edison is one of three schools to receive coats this year, and the largest,” said Kennedy. Governor John Carney and Mayor Mike Purzycki are expected to attend the event.
However, donations will still be accepted for the coat program until early December. Kennedy said this year’s goal is providing 1800 warm coats to needy schoolchildren.
Attendees of the “Camp Kickoff Party” this year were treated to special entertainment highlighted by 8-year-old Max Brown, who dazzled the audience with his fiddle playing and historical context of the music he played. Guitarist and singer Sam Smick also took the mic, playing classics by Van Morrison, The Beetles, and the Rolling Stones.
Donations triple at event
Cash donations collected at the party were three times last year’s take, with more than $6,000 – at least $500 coming from the pockets of members of a generous motorcycle club that regularly frequents the nearby James Street Tavern, who donated all the food for the evening.
Other contributing sponsors included Twin Lakes Brewery (beer), BreakThru Bev (wine) Brandywine Roasters (coffee), AllyJam (firewood), REI’s Christiana store (tents campers lounge display), Party Pizza and Dom’s Pizza, Suburban Lawn Equipment (generators), Against the Grain Arts (camper’s lounge furniture) and WJBR.
In addition to Meyer, other public officials on hand for (at least part of the evening) were Newport Mayor Michael Spencer, New Castle County Councilman Ken Woods, Representative Mike Ramone and Senator Nicole Poore. Unclear at press time if any politicians braved the full night exposed to the elements!
Kennedy said weary campers woke on Saturday morning between 6:00 – 7:00 am and were treated to a delicious meal of bacon pancakes. But upon waking, most campers “chugged some coffee and sprinted for their cars to get home.”
Go here to make a donation to this year’s Campout for Coats.