During the thick of Ohio’s hot, humid summers, the last thing on most people’s minds is a winter coat. Not so for many officers in the Columbus Division of Police (CPD) and other central Ohio departments. As officers patrol during winter, they notice children without warm coats and the image of shivering kids sticks with them all year long.

Several years ago, when the newly established nonprofit Starfish Assignment asked how they could help, providing coats for children was one of the first things the officers mentioned. This year, supported by a $10,000 donation from AEP Ohio, Starfish Assignment coordinated the purchase and delivery of more than 450 new winter coats to children across central Ohio during its fifth annual coat drive.

“Officers drive around and see kids wearing multiple sweatshirts because they don’t have winter coats,” said Nicole Banks, Starfish Assignment founder and president. “Many of these kids have never had a brand-new coat.”

Starfish Assignment worked with Macy’s to purchase the coats. Once the coats arrived at the Columbus Police Academy, young adults in the CPD cadets program and AEP Ohio volunteers sorted and organized them for officers to pick up.

Officers and deputies from CPD, Franklin Township Police Department, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Gahanna Division of Police and Dublin Police Department arrived to select coats for children in their patrol areas. Some had lists of specific genders and sizes they needed while others partnered with local schools and organizations to distribute the coats.

CPD Officer Myisha Fulton has been asking about coats since the summer. She delivered several of her allotted coats to Horizon Science Academy Elementary, where the kids were thrilled to receive them.

“I just wish I could do more,” Officer Fulton said, holding back emotion after one boy hugged her and teared up upon receiving his coat.

Tonya Kelly, a fourth-grade teacher at Horizon, is active in the community with her nonprofit, Empower Our Youth Foundation. She learned of Fulton through Starfish Assignment and that’s how they connected to bring coats to Horizon.

“I went home crying, too,” Kelly said, after seeing the excitement and joy on her students’ faces. “Officer Fulton doesn’t even understand the blessing and honor it was for her to come and give us 20 coats. These kids have been in school since October with no coats on.”

“Events like these are why it’s so great for companies like AEP Ohio to be involved in our communities,” Banks said. “Needs may be greater than we can solve, but we can make a difference one person – or one child – at a time.”

13 responses to “Giving the Gift of Warmth to Local Youth

    1. Dilcia,

      Thanks for reaching out. All of the coats mentioned here have been allocated, but if you or your family are looking for coats or other resources, please visit findhelp.org for options.

    1. Hello Claudia,

      These coats were distributed to children across central Ohio a couple of weeks ago. Area police officers worked with schools and organizations in their patrol areas to provide coats for kids in need.

  1. Thank you EmpoweryouthFondation for all the great work your doing in the community so needed for the youth !!! Continue the bless work your.

  2. In the midst of so much turmoil, global strife of all kind the world is going through, It truely warms the heart when some thoughtful souls take time out to remember our most valuable resource; the children, our future. God’s blessings upon all these good people who have such big open hearts filled with love to deliver through this gesture of sharing ❤️

  3. Lost everything at 2 months ago in apartment fire don’t have a lot just making up to pay my rent and my bills do ont hv furniture or not much of anything winter coats for the kids would be awesome

    1. That’s awful, Ercilia. We are sorry to hear what you’re going through. Unfortunately, these coats have all been allocated. If you’d like to learn more about options for help with your electric bill, please contact our customer service team at 800-672-2231. If you’re in need of other resources, visit findhelp.org for available options.

  4. Please help me for my kiddos I have 5 children and my husband has passed away and it’s been really hard times for my Family and my Kids.
    I know the deadline was on 15th and 16th
    I’m to late to apply
    Just was wondering if you can PLEASE Still help me.
    I didn’t see this post till today on 17th.
    I really appreciate it very much Thank You and May GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

    1. Hello Tatyana,

      We are sorry to hear you’ve fallen on hard times. We are not sure what deadline you’re referring to, but if you need help with your electric bill, please contact our customer service team at 800-672-2231. If you’re in need of other help or resources, visit findhelp.org for available options.

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