For the past three years, Cpl. Dustin Dodd of the Clovis Police Department has spearheaded the effort to provide winter coats to children in need. What began as an employee coat donation drive has rapidly grown into a community-wide effort, and has garnered the support of some major local and national partners.
“I was driving down the street on my way to work one day, and I saw some kids walking to school. It was aroudn the holidays and they weren’t wearing coats,” recalls Dodd. He decided that he wanted to try to provide all kids with warm coats if they couldn’t afford one themselves. So, he started out with a city employee coat drive, and then expanded to the community.
“Before long, we were partnering with a couple of schools here in Clovis. Then we got to thinking, why not try to meet the needs of every child in need of a winter coat?” states Dodd.
While it may sound impressive that last year, the coat drive was able to provide 475 children with a new or gently used coat – this year, the police department has already received a $1,675 donation in cash, and coats are already beginning to appear in bins all over town. Couple that with a generous discount from Walmart, and the police department has already been able to provide schools with coats to distribute to students in need.
Each year, the police department has been successful in securing partnerships with major organizations, which help offset costs and give further reach to the campaign. For example, Caltrans has provided drop-off bins in several locations throughout Clovis and Fresno. Target Corporation, all Clovis CVS stores, Kohl’s at Sierra Vista Mall and the Walmart Supercenter on Herndon Avenue have all agreed to house donation bins, making it even easier to donate.
With the help of these strategic partners and generous donors, Cpl. Dodd wants to expand the drive even further. Along with his team, he is constantly seeking new resources and ways to get people excited to help the community’s children.
“What’s next to improve upon? What else can we do?” asks Dodd. “We want to keep going until we meet every need.”
For those interested in donating a new or gently used coat, please use the Caltrans donation bins at any of the locations listed above through Dec. 15. Coat donations will be distributed to schools throughout the Clovis Unified and Fresno Unified School Districts. Any questions regarding the drive should be directed to Cpl. Dodd or Officer Scott Borsch at the Clovis Police Department at 559-324-2800.
By A. T. Gilbert