PRATT — Excited voices and lots of smiles filled the Pratt Public Library Dec. 2 as Pratt Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) Lodge 1451 handed out free winter coats to every preschool student in Pratt County.
The Elks handed out coats, with some help from Pratt Community College softball team, at the Pratt Library, at Southwest Elementary and at Skyline, said Linda Stelzer, Elks member, grant committee member and event organizer.
This is the second year of the coat giveaway but the first time that every preschooler received a coat. The giveaway last year was at the Pratt Elks Lodge. The library was chosen this year because preschoolers were already at the library for their story time.
Librarian Lea Ann Holland read stories to the children and led them in activities while the coats were being distributed, two at a time. Coats were available in a variety of colors and sizes. Each child tried on a coat and tested it for fit then their name was printed on a special tag in the back of the coat, Stelzer said.
Purchasing the coats was made available through an Elks Beacon Grant. Lodge 1451 used their $2,500 grant to purchase 120 coats. The coats were purchased through Operation Warm, an organization that produces their own line of brand new, high quality coats made just for children.
"When the students receive their coats, it does more than keep the student warm," Stelzer said. "A new coat helps boost students self image."
This is the second Elks community event of the year for the Pratt organization. Back in July, the lodge held a food collection campaign for the Pratt County Food Bank.