United Way Coat Donation Warms Hearts at Casimir Pulaski High School
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United Way Coat Donation Warms Hearts at Casimir Pulaski High School

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A student picks out a new winter coat with help from a City Year corps member at Casimir Pulaski High School.

January 25, 2018

Written by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

For students new to Milwaukee, particularly those that come from warmer countries like Puerto Rico and Burma, a winter coat is essential.

Sinclair Johnson is the City Year Impact Manager at Casimir Pulaski High School. In this role, he oversees a team of City Year corps members who work with 9th grade students, ensuring that they are emotionally, socially, an academically successful in school.

Pulaski High School is located on Milwaukee’s South Side and serves about 850 students in total. Among these students are a number of immigrants and refugees from Burma and Puerto Rico. In fact, after Hurricane Irma devastated parts of Puerto Rico, Pulaski High saw an increase in enrollment of students coming to Milwaukee to stay with family.  The speed and stress of the move for these students meant some were coming to school without a winter coat.

“My team was reporting to me that students were coming to school in hoodies when it was well below freezing outside,” said Sinclair, “one teacher actually went and bought coats to hand out to students. The school also had some coats tucked away for this purpose, but they ran out.”

When Sinclair heard from teachers and corps members that students didn’t have the right winter gear, he took action.

“I called our team at City Year’s main offices, who went to the board of directors,” said Sinclair, “one of the board members is from United Way, and they immediately responded with all the coats and gloves we needed!”

“City Year reached out to United Way to share that they had become aware of several new students at Pulaski High School who had just moved here following the devastating storms in Puerto Rico and did not have winter coats,” says Nicole Angresano, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way, “United Way was so pleased to be able to quickly move resources to purchase coats, hats and gloves for the students that need them.”

In addition to this one-time donation of winter gear, United Way funding goes to support City Year’s Whole School, Whole Child program. United Way also sponsors a team of corps members at James Madison Academic Campus, a Milwaukee Community School located on Milwaukee’s North West side.

Sinclair and his team were overjoyed at the response of students to their new coats. “We let kids come in and pick out their own coat. They are awesome colors and fit really well. Even the students with coats are a little jealous, and comment on how fly the coats look,” said Sinclair.

The coats are available not only for the 9th graders that work with City Year, but to any student that needs one.

“One of the things that have bought me and my team so much joy is, when we greet the students every morning as they come into the school, we see our students bundled up in their new coats, warm and happy to be at school,” said Sinclair.  

Learn more about City Year Milwaukee.

There are lots of ways to help keep the community warm this winter. Check out this page on our Volunteers United site to get involved.  

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