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Warm the Children helps families get through winter

  • Zebadiah Santos, 8, plays a game of cards while wearing clothes from the Warm the Children program Thursday afternoon at his home in Greenfield, Nov. 1, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • People wait out in a light rain to get winter clothing at the Warm the Children charity at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Friday morning. September 21, 2018 Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ

  • Chelsea Pease, left, helps her son Zebadiah Santos, 8, with a stuck zipper on a jacket received from the Warm the Children program Thursday afternoon at their home in Greenfield, Nov. 1, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Zebadiah Santos, 8, plays outside wearing clothes and a jacket from the Warm the Children program Thursday afternoon at his home in Greenfield, Nov. 1, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little



Staff Writer
Friday, November 02, 2018

GREENFIELD – Halloween has come and gone, and Thanksgiving and Christmas always invite, if nothing else, one guaranteed feature: cold weather.

New England typically has unforgiving winters, and that can wreak havoc on the pocketbooks of parents that continuously have to buy new clothes for their children, who grow like weeds. This can be particularly difficult for people of modest means. That’s where Warm the Children comes in for families like that of Chelsea Pease.

“It’s phenomenal. ... I have very low income coming in, so it’s amazing,” she said about The Recorder’s charity, as she gets a hug from her 8-year-old son, Zebadiah Santos, who then played with the family cat in their living room at Oak Courts. Pease’s husband, Francis Santos, said it is astonishing how quickly kids outgrow their clothes, no matter the quality.

Warm the Children annually provides winter clothing to about 1,000 needy children in Franklin County. Brand-new clothes, purchased through donations, are brought to a temporary Warm the Children “store” in the Dole Building at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, where distribution this year lasted from Sept. 19 through Sept. 21. The Recorder orchestrates the 25-year-old charity with the help of Wilson’s Department Store and the anti-poverty agency Community Action. This year’s investment was $84,300.

“The pickup was for 1 (p.m.). I got there at 12:30, because I like to be early, just in case,” Pease said. “They took people early this year — took people early! So I was in and out before 1 o’clock. It was quick!”

Zebadiah got a winter coat, long johns, underwear and socks from Warm the Children this year. He said his favorite is the long johns, because they are warm and comfortable. Pease also said Zebadiah jokes that because of Warm the Children, his parents save money that they can spend on him.

Children and their families or guardians visit the Dole Building and hand a form — detailing the number of children, their age, size and gender — to a volunteer shopper who takes the children on a “shopping trip” through the building to ensure they get every article of clothing they’re entitled to. The process is anonymous. Pease said an older man who helped them shop was extremely accommodating and allowed her to adjust clothing sizes depending on what would fit Zebadiah.

“It was the same volunteers as last year, which was awesome,” Pease said. “So it was familiar faces.”

Pease, who has participated in Warm the Children for eight years, said she always makes sure to pick clothes one size too big for her son — that way he can wear it for two years. She said that will particularly come in handy now, as this was the final year she could utilize Warm the Children, because Zebadiah will have grown too big for the free clothes by next year.

To donate, send a check to: Warm the Children, c/o The Recorder, P.O. Box 1367, Greenfield, MA 01302. New clothing may be dropped at The Greenfield Recorder, at 14 Hope St., any time during the year during business hours (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

If you have a story to share about giving or receiving warm clothes during the Warm the Children campaign, contact DomenicPoli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.