A big snowstorm the first weekend in October is one sign that it's time for the Rotary Coats for Kids program to get under way.

"Once again we are asking local citizens to donate warm coats, gloves, and hats for distribution to those in need here in Wallowa County," said program chairman Rob Lamb. "This popular annual program typically distributes upwards of 300 to 400 coats each fall."

This year's program could be one of the best ever thanks to a special fund raiser this past summer. Local Rotarian Jean Falbo challenged other Rotarians to match a $1,000 cash donation. The raffle of a pontoon boat donated by a local fly fishing shop, together with cash donations, raised an additional $1,300. Half of the total $2,300 will be used to buy new coats in 2009 and the balance saved for the 2010 program.

Drop boxes for donating coats are located at Sterling Bank, Safeway and at Community Bank branches in Enterprise, Wallowa, and Joseph.

Anyone who wants to help is asked to donate warm, clean, coats for kids and/or adults. Lamb said there is a special need for preschool and young children's coats. Other warm weather gear is also accepted.

The coats are available at two locations: the Wallowa Valley Professional Building on the corner of First and Greenwood streets in Enterprise from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; and the Blonde Strawberry in Wallowa.

Anyone needing a coat is welcome to select one from the display racks. "If it fits, it's yours!"

Coats are currently on display, and new items will be added weekly as they become available. Coats will be available through approximately mid-November.

The majority of the new coats purchased by this year's fundraiser will be available through Head Start and the Wallowa, Enterprise and Joseph school districts. If you have a special need or request for a child's coat, contact Amy Johnson at Building Healthy Families, 426-9411.

For more information: call Lamb, 432-4343; or Falbo, 432-6309.

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