Members of local service organizations, government offices and law enforcement pledged to act cooperatively this year during an annual collection drive designed to ensure that Nodaway County children in need have warm coats, hats and gloves to wear this winter. Pictured from left are Ann Martin and Kathi Ridenour of Today’s Civic Women, Presiding Nodaway County Commissioner Bill Walker, Cathy Rybolt of Community Services Inc., Maryville Public Safety Director Keith Wood, Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Tom Ziegler, Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rice, Mike Grudzinski of the Knights of Columbus, Nodaway County North District Commissioner Chris Burns and Sheriff Randy Strong.


Every year about this time a number of organizations announce they are conducting a collection drive aimed at making sure children from lower-income families have a warm coat for the coming winter.

In the past, such efforts largely have been led by the local chapters of Today’s Civic Women and the Knights of Columbus. Similar efforts also have been mounted by various service groups and student organizations.

Nodaway County Prosecuting Attorney and Knights of Columbus member Robert Rice got to thinking about that, and came to the conclusion that more coats might be distributed to more children in need if everybody worked together.

The result is the first-ever community/county Koats 4 Kids campaign, details for which were announced Wednesday during a Rice-led press conference at the Nodaway County Administration Center.

Others attending the kickoff included Kathi Ridenour and Ann Martin of Today’s Civic Women; Outreach Director Cathy Rybolt of Community Services Inc., a local social services agency; county commissioners Bill Walker and Chris Burns; Knights of Columbus member Mike Grudzinski; and officers representing local law enforcement agencies.

All of those entities will be participating in this year’s expanded coat drive, Rice said, either by collecting coats themselves or by allowing bins to be set up at locations they control.

This year’s coat, hat and glove collection began Monday, Sept. 18, and continues through Friday, Oct. 13. The extended list of collection sites is to include the Administration Center at Fourth and Market streets, the Nodaway County Courthouse, Maryville Public Safety headquarters, the Missouri State Highway Patrol zone office, located at 28320 250th St. just east of Maryville; the Northwest Missouri State University Police Department and the Nodaway County Sheriff’s Office.

Traditional collection locations from previous years will remain active as well. They include the Maryville Daily Forum, the Nodaway News Leader, Meyer Auto Center and Baker Chiropractic.

Gently used and new coats, hats and gloves also can be dropped off during the collection period at St. Gregory Barbarigo Catholic Church.

Especially needed are coats in sizes 4-12. When the collection drive ends, the coats, hats and gloves will be taken to either Eugene Field Elementary School for direct distribution to students or to Community Services Inc., which works with families in need countywide.

“By working together, we’re going to collect even more coats for kids in our community,” said Rice, adding that Today’s Civic Women, the Knights, local law enforcement and the county all expressed enthusiasm for a combined effort.

“Everyone is on board,” he said, “which I appreciate because there is a need.”

By incorporating law agencies into the effort, Rice said, organizers have created a new avenue for identifying families who need help this winter keeping their young ones protected from the cold.

Sheriff Randy Strong noted that he and his deputies cover the entire county and not infrequently encounter folks who could use some assistance as temperatures fall.

“We have a great community when we take care of each other,” Strong said.

The sheriff’s municipal counterpart, Maryville Public Safety Director Keith Wood, agreed that law enforcement is keenly aware that “there are a whole lot of folks who simply fall through the cracks,” and that his officers are willing to do whatever they can to help.

Aside from making sure children have coats so they can play outside during the winter and stay warm while waiting for the school bus or walking to school, Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Tom Ziegler said the drive addresses safety concerns as well.

During harsh weather, especially in a large, rural county like Nodaway, thinly clad children can find themselves at risk, Ziegler said, if stranded in cars that break down or get stuck in heavy snow away from shelter and immediate aid.

“This is a great program, and we look forward to helping out,” the trooper said.

With more people and groups involved in this year’s coat drive, Rice said it will be easier to identify those in need and provide them with cold-weather clothing in a timely manner.

Anyone who needs help, he said, or who knows someone who needs help, can simply speak to any peace officer, Knight or Today’s Civic Women member.

Ridenour said anyone with coats to donate, but who can’t get them to a collection bin, can call 660-582-4294 or 660-853-9151 and have the garments picked up.

In addition, Knights of Columbus members will be accepting coat, cap and glove donations from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, at the Maryville Wal-Mart store and Hy-Vee supermarket.

Rice urged anyone who knows of a child in need of winter outerwear simply to contact any of the agencies or organizations involved.

“We’re going to make sure that every kid in Nodaway County this winter is going to have a coat if they need one,” he said.


Tony Brown | Daily Forum