Daniel Hester, 8, of New Market knows that there are people in Frederick County who do not have a warm coat for this winter.
The New Market Elementary School third-grader said he often sees some of those people on the streets of downtown Frederick when he visits the city with his family.
It was during one of these visits a few months ago that Daniel said he got an idea about how to make a difference in the lives of the homeless and those in need of warm clothing.
“I saw some people in need, and I told my mom that I wanted to do something about it,” he said. “I saw that they were all cold, [and] there were all these coats in our closet, so I told my mom: ‘Why don’t we do something with them?’”
“I thought it was a great idea,” said Daniel’s mother, Lisa Kokal, 48.
Daniel and his mother put out the word about their coat drive and placed a collection bin in the from entrance hallway of the New Market school.
In about three weeks, they collected 233 new and gently used coats, including a blue jacket with fleece lining that Daniel donated. He got the jacket as a birthday present from his grandmother last year.
“It was a really nice [jacket], but it was too small,” he said. “I’m happy somebody will get my jacket, I bet they’re happy.”
Some of the coats from the drive are being distributed to other area schools for children in need, including Lincoln Elementary in Frederick and Middletown Elementary.
But most of them will go to the Frederick Rescue Mission, which provides a range of services to those in need, including transitional shelter.
“I feel really proud of myself because I actually did something,” Daniel said.
Kokal said she never expected the community response that they received to the coat drive, which ended Monday.
At the beginning of the drive, she said they were hoping for 100 coats.
“It just started snowballing,” she said. “I think it’s incredible.”
People from as far away as West Virginia donated coats.
“I think people donated [a lot] because they are fortunate to have things,” Daniel said.
Daniel said he hopes to hold the coat drive again next year.
Kokal said she is proud of Daniel’s efforts to help those in need.
“There’s people who need [things], and instead of saying something like ‘That’s so sad,’ Daniel took action. ... Instilling that in young kids is important,” she said. “These coats are homeless, they need people.”