KOOTENAI — Addie Brewington was loud and proud Friday as she announced over her school's intercom how much money she and her classmates raised for this year's Coats 4 Kids drive.
"We raised $400," the 7-year-old announced, followed by Kootenai Elementary Principal Kelli Knowles, who said they also gathered five bags of coats.
Half of the money was donated by Addie herself, because at the beginning of the donation drive she challenged her Kootenai Elementary classmates and the staff to donate as much as they could.
In return, Addie told her classmates that she would match the funds.
So she put a boot-shaped jar on the office counter and the money began to add up.
"Last year I donated $100, and my goal (this year) was at least $100, but we got over," Addie said. "At first I thought it was only going to be change, but then people started donating dollars."
In fact, the students donated so much more than she expected, she had to call around to some "sponsors" — aunts and great-grandparents — raising $75 to help match the $200 raised. Addie said she also took a bag, marked "Coats 4 Kids," and went around her neighborhood asking people if they would like to donate to "cold children." She raised $57 through that venture. The rest came from Addie's allowance, with some help from her "Nana," Jodi Brewington.
"Addie likes to help," Brewington said. "She is very loving and she doesn't want any kid to be cold or be without something."
The $100 Addie donated last year, which she has saved from allowance for about a year, was delivered by the girl directly to KXLY's Kris Crocker, who made an appearance at during a special 2016 Coats 4 Kids distribution event at the Bonner Mall last October. Since then, Addie has declared Coats 4 Kids her official charity, rallying those around her to help out as well.
"Some kids can't buy their own coats, so some people have to donate money or donate coats so they can get something to keep them warm," Addie said.
Addie also encouraged her classmates to bring in any coats they outgrew from the previous year, and Knowles said Addie sets an example for her classmates, getting them excited about helping others in the community.
"That she took the initiative and wanted kids to help pitch in, and that she came up with the idea all on her own, it's such as great example," Knowles said. "... And their willingness to give, that makes me feel really good about these kids — that we raised that much money."
For her efforts, Addie was not only rewarded with the knowledge that so many kids would be warm in the coming winter months, she also got to go shopping with Karen Battenschlag, the local Coats 4 Kids coordinator, on Sunday to purchase new coats with the money raised.
The duo spent $766 on about 50 items — nine infant sleeper sets and the rest on cold weather items for sizes ranging from 18 months to teen. While they ran short of getting some adult items, Battenschlag said she is still working on picking up all the cash and coat donations from participating businesses.
"We had a really great time," Battenschlag said. "When I was shopping with Addie, about mid-way through, she said 'When you put on a coat, it's like wearing a warm hug all day long.'"
Coats 4 Kids collection ended this week, and Battenschlag estimated about 800 coats collected this year through the local Coats 4 Kids drive, but she will be working on the final count this week. Distribution of the new and gently used items collected will continue at Bonner Mall until Nov. 5 or until items are gone.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.