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Koats for Kids program under way

| October 25, 2006 12:00 AM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

When Carrel Lundvall goes to rummage sales, she buys reasonably priced good coats, hats, gloves, mittens and boots so she can give them away.

Lundvall belongs to Kootenai Kiwanis, which last week kicked off its annual Koats for Kids program. Volunteers from 1 to 4 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday through early February will give away coats and other winter wear to families.

Distribution will take place at the former Kootenai Mercantile building at Fourth Street and California Avenue across from the American Legion.

Lundvall in less than an hour during opening day gave away 15 coats in addition to gloves and hats. She estimates 75 to 100 coats remain for kids all ages and adults, and more are being accepted.

"We still have boxes to unpack," she said.

Kiwanis gave away 1,037 coats in 2005, 605 in 2004 and 526 in 2003. There are no income guidelines or limits on the number of coats, said project chairwoman Pam Peppenger.

"Nobody I know has ever abused it," Peppenger said. "If they take them and try them on, and they don't fit, they bring them back."

Bob Payne, owner of the Mercantile building, donates the use of the vacant storefront for Koats for Kids. Laurie Kempter and Richard Beck, owners of Magic Cleaners at 221 California Ave., dry clean coats at no charge.

"The old owners (Randy and Carrel Lundvall) used to do it and asked me if I would," Kempter said. "I want to help the community."

Magic Cleaners has cleaned 40 coats so far and expects many more.

Many of the coats are donated; some are purchased.

"I get good deals on new ones and secondhand ones," Lundvall said. "When I find a coat in excellent condition that doesn't take much repair or cleaning, I buy it. We try to keep the best of the best."

"If I go 'yard saling,' I always look for coats, hats, gloves mittens and boots," she continued. "I even go when I'm out of town. Three weeks ago, we had to go to a meeting in Post Falls. There were six yard sales between here and Post Falls. I stopped and collected quite a bit."

Lundvall also repairs coats.

"To put in a zipper in a good coat . . . just because the zipper is broke, doesn't mean you need to throw it away," she said.

Kiwanis also has donation bins at Pamida, Ace Home Center, Rosauers, Libby Drug and Libby Furnture.