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Coat drive supports local kiddos

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Coat drive

From left, kwElite realtors Erica Zywiec, Cheryl Richardson and Perla Campuzano pose with the coat donation box in Parkway Plaza. The coat drive hosted by kwElite will continue collecting items for another week.

When Perla Campuzano’s family moved to Nebraska, she was missing one necessary item -- a jacket.

After speaking with her teacher about her and her siblings’ situation, the school helped them get coats. The coats given to the Campuzanos were coats that the teachers at her school collected to help their students.

Campuzano recently found herself talking to her former teacher about needs in schools, today. Campuzano, who is now a realtor with kwElite, wanted to “pay it forward,” if you will, by holding a coat drive.

“It lit up a light bulb,” Campuzano said of the conversation. “This helped me at one point, how awesome would it be to give back in such a way.”

The drive is currently being held at Parkway Plaza, 4471 41st Ave. in Columbus, where kwElite is housed. They are collecting gently new and used coats for kiddos from pre-school through high school.

kwElite is always looking for ways to give back to the community, Campuzano said. This past year the company was nominated for an award for being “community oriented,” she added. This is where her contribution comes in.

“There is a need out there,” Campuzano said. “There’s kids that show up without (coats to) school.”

Former teacher and kwElite realtor Erica Zywiec said she spoke to Campuzano about the need for coats in schools as she saw it first hand.

“Every winter there’s so many families that can’t afford coats. So every winter there'd be kids going to the office trying to get a coat just to wear to recess and then they would take it back,” Zywiec said. “They didn’t get to keep it because it kind of needed to stay there so that was helpful but if other kids forgot their coats, then they wouldn’t have that one.”

The students would improvise, Zywiec explained. They would wear two sweatshirts, two hoodies, whatever they had, but it was not warm enough.

“It’s definitely a necessity,” she said.

Zywiec said she has also volunteered for various community charities and coats, hats, gloves and scarfs are always needed items for children. This need is across all ages, she added.

“(Having a reliable coat) makes them feel like all of their peers in the building,” Zywiec said. “When they go to their locker, they take it out of their locker -- they don’t have to walk down to the office and miss five minutes of their 10-minute recess just trying to get a coat… They can put it on and walk out with all their friends.”

After talking out her idea with kwElite Broker and Owner Renee Mueller, the group decided to contribute one for one matching donations. With every new coat that is brought in, KwElite will donate one coat, Campuzano said.

Currently, they have not received any new coats, but they have, however, collected several gently used coats along with scarfs. Campuzano said she is hoping to get one box of coats for each school in the community.

“We are really hoping that the community can help us in any way possible to help us reach our goal,” Campuzano said.

Because they are a ways from their goal, they might be raffling off the coats to the schools based on size.

“This is our first year and we’re hoping that after this, we can keep it going and hopefully the following years, it will be great,” she said, adding next year they are hoping for a bigger showing.

The collection box will remain in the Parkway Plaza lobby for at least another week. If you have any questions or would like more information, call 402-563-4663.

Monica Garcia is the managing editor at The Columbus Telegram. Reach her by email at


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