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To the least of these ...

For more than 20 years Kinship Partners youth mentoring program, Crystal Cleaners and BL Broadcasting have partnered for the annual Coats for Kids drive. Our common goal is to provide warm winter coats and other winter outerwear to children and families in need.

What makes Coats for Kids unique is there are no questions asked; the only criteria is need. This fall an estimated 1,000 youth and adults received a warm winter coat and other winter outerwear.

Despite all the gloomy national and international economic news you, the Brainerd lakes area community donated more coats and winter outerwear than ever before. Not a single person was turned away in 2011.

Kinship Partners would like to thank all the local churches, businesses, civic organizations, and others who provided donations and volunteers for the project.

And a special thanks to behind the scenes people like Brian Churack and Barry Bruland at BL Broadcasting, Rick and Sue Bricker at Crystal Cleaners, David Jackson at the Westgate Mall and Tom Conway and his team of Kohl’s volunteers. Your efforts have made Coats for Kids a “shopping experience” and not a coat giveaway.

Can the Brainerd Lakes Area community do it again? Due to the economy every nonprofit organization in the Brainerd lakes area is faced with the difficult challenge of finding enough funding to maintain their programs and services to the less fortunate.

So let us all look past the materialism of the Christmas season and consider giving needed gifts to ..the least of these..

DAVID DOWNING is executive director of Kinship Partners.