The Douglas County Sheriffs Department is gearing up for the annual Coats for Kids 5K walk/run which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 22. The race begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Ava Senior Center.
This is the sixth year the Sheriffs Department has organized the run / walk event as a fundraiser for Coats for Kids.
The project initially began in 2010 when the fundraising efforts were supported by a marathon softball tournament event. During those years, softball tournaments were popular as fundraising events, but in 2013, organizers turned their focus to hosting a 5K run.
Sheriff Chris Degase says the idea to provide coats for local youths became evident one year during the Christmas season’s Shop With a Cop event. He observed most families were needing coats for their children rather than toys, and with that need in mind, he started working with local schools and area sponsors to bring the event to reality.
Last year, the initiative furnished approximately 200 coats to local youths, and the distribution area includes students at Ava, Plainview and Skyline. But, the coat opportunity isn’t limited to just school kids, it may also provide warm coats to infants, house fire victims, and others in need.
In addition to local schools, the Sheriffs Department also works with the Care to Learn program and the Division of Family Services (DFS), using them as venues for distributing coats and for learning about kids in need.
Sponsors also include local businesses, as well as entertainment venues in Branson who provide tickets and special gifts for race day drawings.
The process for distributing coats begins with a list of names that has been received from area schools, DFS and other local venues. The roster will list a child’s first name, gender, and coat size. The list is then given to Walmart in Ava where the appropriate coat sizes and styles are readied for distribution.
Within the past five years, the initiative has donated approximately 1,000 coats to youths in the Douglas County community.
To participate in the run/walk fundraiser, sign up may be completed on the runsignup.com website. The deadline for online registration is Sept. 20; however, late entries will be taken on-site race day. But, for entrants to guarantee receipt of a t-shirt, organizers are asking for participants to register by Sept 8.
Runners may pick up their packet on Friday, Sept. 21 at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Dept. between 2:00 – 5:00 p.m., or on Saturday at the Ava Community Center the day of race, from 8:00 – 8:30 a.m.
The race will begin at the Ava Community Center and travel through town to the Industrial Park Road, with runners then returning to the Center. Roadways will be marked and cross roads will be manned. In past years, members of the high school football or cross country team have assisted on race day by manning intersections and directing runners and traffic at special locations.
The run/walk event is open to all ages, and medals will be presented to top finishers.
Degase said he appreciates the partnerships established over the years with businesses such as Walmart and the many sponsors who have supported the project initiative and fundraising efforts. Last year, the run/walk had 90 entries participate, and they hope to see the interest grow even more.
For those interested in helping with the project, or interested in making a donation, please contact the Douglas County Sheriffs Department, 683-1020, and mention Coats for Kids.