WASHINGTON -- As the D.C. area got its first real taste of winter this week, the Children's Charities Foundation has been ensuring that needy youngsters are dressed warmly. Thursday morning at the Verizon Center, the organization distributed more than 1,200 new winter coats to 30 area charities and community organizations.
The "Coats for Kids" program was kickstarted three years ago by CCF chairman Peter Teeley, who before entering the philanthropic world worked from 1980 to 1985 as press secretary to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and as U.S. ambassador to Canada from 1992 to 1993.
Teeley and his wife, Victoria Casey, were purchasing winter coats at Lord & Taylor when they decided to buy a few extra to donate to charity.
"The quality was outstanding, the prices were terrific, and we thought, 'We ought to pick up a dozen, drop 'em off at the church,'" Teeley told The Huffington Post. "So we're driving home, and we're talking about it and we said, 'Well, if we're going to get 10 or 12, why don't we buy 500?' So that's how it started."
Since that lightbulb moment, the group has given away about 3,000, coats purchased in an arrangement with Lord & Taylor. The need is great in the D.C. area where the coats will be distributed, Teeley said. The areas include Ward 7 and Ward 8 in the District of Columbia, which have the highest unemployment rates in the nation's capital, plus places in Maryland's Prince George's and Montgomery counties and communities in Northern Virginia.
"We could give away 10,000 coats and there'd still be a need," Teeley said. "It's a shame, because there is that need, but it's an opportunity to step in and try to do something for someone else."
Given the success of Coats for Kids, CCF is now considering kickstarting a similar program for back-to-school clothing.