Coat and book giveaway helps hundreds of Philadelphia students

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Hundreds of coats and books were donated to students at Juniata Park Academy on Wednesday.

"There was a need even before the pandemic. It's even greater now," remarked parent Tyana Elbedawi, who is also a social worker. "Even working, I'm still struggling."

Thomas' Bread Company partnered with the non-profit Operation Warm to donate thousands of coats. More than 500 of them are going to kindergarten through fourth-grade students at the school.

"Not just during the pandemic, but at any point, we need to make sure that we're working together to provide the basic needs, human rights for our children," according to principal Marisol Rivera Rodriguez.

Rivera Rodriguez added that their families have been hit hard financially, and prioritizing needs becomes difficult.

The school is also giving kindergarten through 8th-grade students books from their classroom libraries.

"We're not loaning them, we're giving them to our children because they need it at home," Rivera Rodriguez clarified.
"So, we'll be reaching out to donors to build the independent libraries that are within the school, but right now our priority is that our students have access to reading," Rivera Rodriguez said.

Families can select as many books as they like.

"My daughter's like, 'Can you come and get me some books?' She likes reading a lot, so that's the main reason why I came today," explained parent Jennifer Calix.

"Right now, everything is so virtual, and online, that it's good to just have a book and just the feel of the pages. Sometimes the kids are losing that," Elbedawi said.

The distribution is staggered to avoid crowds.

Parents will be back again Thursday to pick up the rest of the coats and books.
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