Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda police and fire personnel conducted their annual Coats for Kids event Wednesday, providing warm clothes and shoes to 281 children.
“So many people contribute to this,” the Rev. A.W. Moldenhauer, who helped found the event. “We just have a wonderful brotherhood involved.”
Moldenhauer, the fire and police chaplain, began the event with a handful of firemen. They collected names of children who needed coats from school nurses, purchased them and then went door to door delivering them. Then, the project took days, but now, the effort is completed in just one afternoon at one location.
The coats, which were purchased from Walmart, were available in an empty storefront in the Tops Meadow Drive Plaza between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Walmart employees transported the coats and helped children pick them out.
Next door, the 138 families picked out shoes and gloves at Payless, where time and employees’ help was also donated. As children waited in line, Santa Claus was there to entertain them.
“We have a nice deal with these stores, and it has allowed the event to grow,” Moldenhauer said.
The police and professional fire departments conduct fundraising every year to pay for the coats and the shoes. Tops also provides ham dinners for each family.
“Fundraising went well. It always goes well,” Police Capt. Tom Krantz, who helps run the event, said. “We have a core group of people who help out, but we get different people each year.”
Moldenhauer, who was a pastor at St. Matthew’s, said he feels blessed looking back on how the event has grown.
“I started it because there was just such a need. I am so blessed, and if we could help just one family in the city, we would have succeeded,” he said.
But although Moldenhauer remains primarily responsible for the event, he repeatedly thanked Krantz and the two departments for their work.
“Krantz is the right-hand man. Without the money they raise, this wouldn’t happen,” he said. “Don’t give me the credit.”
As Moldenhauer helped out in Payless on Wednesday, one father thanked him profusely for his help and wished him a merry Christmas.
“That’s what is nice, when you see people that really appreciate it,” Moldenhauer said.
Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.