Hundreds of refugee students in Kent County in need of winter weather gear

Posted at 1:19 AM, Dec 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-19 15:10:51-05

KENTWOOD, Mich. - A Kent County school counselor is hoping to help hundreds of students in Kent County that are arriving here in West Michigan for their first winter, without cold weather gear.

"We had one student who came in here and she didn`t have a coat, she got this lime green one from me and she was so excited she hasn`t taken it off for days and a teacher actually told me that she wore it to bed that she loved it that much, so the coats mean a lot to the kids," says Jessica Bradley, Community School Coordinator with Kent School Services Network.

It's a situation that roughly 300 international students who came to the United States as refugees are facing at East Kentwood High School.

"For a lot of them it`s their first winter they`ve ever had and they`re cold and they don`t know what to expect," Bradley says.

As more and more students came into Bradley`s office she knew she had a need to meet for the cold winter months ahead, so she reached out to West Michigan using the power of social media.

"I reached out to my Facebook page and just asked friends and family for coats and winter gear and it ended up being spread around by a lot of people, and a lot of people shared it and i ended up having strangers contact me and counselors here were donating coats," Bradley says.

Just this past week alone, 50 coats have already been given out.

"We`re asking for coats that would appeal to teenagers we`re looking particularly small medium and large coats and just ones that they would be really excited to wear," Bradley says.

So gently used or new, your donation could make a huge difference for a student right here in your community...

"It`s not just the newcomers who need coats, anyone who is in need of a coat sometimes the holidays can be tough, coats are to small they can come to me and we can get them set up," Bradley says.

Donations can be dropped off at East Kentwood High School after students and teachers return from winter break on January 2.

Union High School in Grand Rapids is also in need of coats and will be accepting donations Monday through Thursday of this week during school hours.