Comptroller presents Coats for Kids campaign with award
— When Kiwanis Club of Elkton President Bill McQuiston accepted the 2016 William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for the Coats for Kids campaign on Monday, he was quick to note that the award doesn’t belong to his organization alone.
While the Kiwanis Club has run the campaign for the past 10 years, McQuiston said the campaign wouldn’t be possible without the many local organizations and individuals who help out each year. The campaign, which collects and distributes used winter coats to children and adults in need, was started by former Delegate David Rudolph in 1986 while he was an assistant principal at Elkton High School as a community service project for students
“On behalf of all of these wonderful people, Kiwanis Club of Elkton graciously accepts this award,” McQuiston said. “Realizing that we are just the caretakers of that award; that it goes to a lot of different places around this county.”
Comptroller Peter Franchot presented the campaign with the award during a ceremony on Monday in Elkton.
Established in 2012 to honor Schaefer, a former governor, comptroller and Baltimore mayor, the award is presented in each of Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City to individuals and organizations with an unwavering commitment to helping people.
“The Coats for Kids campaign embodies what I believe Schaefer represented during his 50 years in public life,” Franchot said. “Over the last three decades, the Coats for Kids campaign has positively impacted the community, touched the lives of thousands of kids and adults and countless families who have experienced the warmth, love and generosity of complete strangers and neighbors across the county.”
Franchot said Schaefer, who was also a World War II veteran, represented “the little guy” and contributed to those in need. Schaefer’s gravestone states “he cared” but does not mention his accomplishments, Franchot noted.
“He was known for his legendary ‘do it now’ approach and he firmly believed the government had to be responsive to its citizens,” he said. “And perhaps most importantly that everyone had a responsibility and a duty to make a contribution.”
The campaign goes beyond the club, McQuiston said, and receives help from many businesses and organizations in the county, such as the YMCA and the Bayside Community Network who donate coats, hold coat drives and even hold coats for them. He also thanked Cecil County Public Schools and the Tome School for distributing information about the campaign in their schools, which helps drum up participation.
“But I’d also like to give special thanks to the citizens of Cecil County because they’re the ones who provide the coats. Without their generosity, we wouldn’t go anywhere,” McQuiston said.
He noted that once the club collects the coats, they are given to Roger Owens, owner of O-Kleen Laundry and Dry Cleaning and Village Laundry, to be cleaned. The coats are then given to the Cecil County Department of Social Services’s Help Center, which distributes them.
Franchot presented Owens with a medallion for his help and contributions to the club since 1986, noting he dry-cleaned over 80,000 coats free of charge.
Owens said they are currently preparing for donations and sometimes receive coats all year, noting he’s already made deliveries to the Help Center this year. Other businesses in the county, such as the YMCA, have held their own coat drives as well, he said.
“We don’t turn down anybody that brings in coats,” Owens said. “We’ll take care of it and get them processed through the system.”
During the ceremony, several speeches were given by county offifificials including County Executive Tari Moore and Kelly Keeton, spokesperson for Cecil County Public Schools, among others.
“In Cecil County, I think one of the things to be most proud of are our partnerships that we have,” Keeton said. “We truly are a com- munity in every sense of the word — we work together to do what is needed. The Kiwanis and Roger (Owens) are perfect examples of what we stand for in Cecil County: to take on the challenges and to take care of our kids.”
Comptroller Peter Franchot and Bill McQuiston pose for a photo with county officials after the ceremony on Monday.
Comptroller Peter Franchot, center, gives Bill McQuiston, president of the Kiwanis Club of Elkton, the award and proclamation on Monday while Roger Owens looks on.