GREAT FALLS — This year, there are more than 10,000 kids enrolled in Great Falls Public Schools, and not all of them have the things they need, such as winter coats. GFPS is looking to change that.
GFPS staff say they have identified more than 376 homeless students. With a big need for supplies, they have partnered with Alluvion Health to put on a coat drive for the month of January.
Tiffany Zarling is a school-based care coordinator for Alluvion and went through GFPS herself. She's seen a need at numerous schools and helped start the drive to help get kids winter gear.
"I'm based out of Longfellow Elementary School and I just noticed from that school tons of kiddos coming into school without coats or winter gear and then traveling between all the other schools too," Zarling said. "Throughout my job, I've noticed tons of kids not having the winter gear. We just started it, but it seems to be going pretty well. It seems like a lot of people are supportive."
Ryan Hart has been coordinating it on the GFPS side as their student services coordinator. Having been in education for decades, he says he has always seen the need but now, they are reaching kids more effectively and getting more necessities to more kids.
"After the month we told Alluvion a goal of what we needed per school, and they're going to work on that and we're going to divvy it up accordingly to those schools directly," Hart said of the drive. "We're just a little bit better of identifying who is in those situations. We just do our best to meet those needs, as do all of the schools. And the more the schools can help, the more kids that we can reach."
The coat drive is only a few days old, but they are taking donations throughout the entire month of January. The need varies from school to school, but all coat sizes - new and/or gently-used - will be accepted.
Donations can be dropped off at several Alluvion locations downtown: 111 5th St N, and 105 6th St N.
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