Parkites offer warm winter coats for all in need |

Parkites offer warm winter coats for all in need

Latinos in Action students from Treasure Mountain Junior High School are partnering with the El Chubasco restaurant and Team Park City United to hold a coat drive to provide winter clothing for families in need. The goods donated will be distributed at the Christian Center of Park Citys Operation Hope event Tuesday, Dec. 13, and Wednesday, Dec. 14.

Maetzi Suarez, a ninth-grader at Treasure Mountain Junior High, has plenty of friends who have gone through winters without warm coats, instead getting by with thin long-sleeve shirts or sweaters.

This winter, though, Suarez and other TMJH students in the Latinos in Action club are doing their best to make sure everyone in Park City has a coat to keep them warm through the winter. They came up with the idea of holding a major coat drive, and are partnering with the El Chubasco restaurant and the Team Park City United ski team to make it happen.

The coat drive began recently, but already they have gathered more than 100 coats. They hope to have hundreds more by the time the coats are distributed at the Christian Center of Park City's annual Operation Hope event scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 13, and Wednesday, Dec. 14.

"It's actually pretty amazing how we barely started and we already have a lot of coats," Suarez said. "We thought of it, but seeing that we're already receiving a bunch of coats is a really cool feeling."

Carrie Schwartz, owner of El Chubasco, said the effort began when a Latinos in Action student came into the restaurant with the idea. She and her employees were intrigued because they understood how many families in Park City struggle to make ends meet and may not have money to buy winter coats.

"It was exciting to see people's reactions," she said. "There was even a woman eating, a customer, and she got really excited. The next day she brought in 10 coats, before we even had the idea down, before we were even going. So I think we knew it was a great idea all around and that we could help the students make it bigger."

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Schwartz then reached out to Team Park City United to capitalize on its resources within the community. Almost immediately, the donations started flooding in.

"Everybody was really excited and wanted to make it even bigger than the original idea," she said.

Todd Francis, a coach with Team Park City United, said he, too, was excited when he learned of the drive. Being a winter sports program, the team was perfectly positioned to bring in a lot of coats.

"We have about 300 athletes, so we knew we could make an impact and have a big reach with the parents and athletes," he said. "Most of these kids have outgrown their ski coats from the previous season, so it's a perfect fit for them to donate coats to help out."

To Suarez, the outpouring of support has been encouraging. She said it's a great feeling to be part of a community-wide mission to help people in need.

"Knowing that you're helping someone out, and they're happy that they got a new winter coat, is a good feeling," she said. "You feel like you're doing good for other people. Nothing beats that feeling."

To donate coats, drop them off at bins located at El Chubasco, El Chubasco To Go, Team Park City United, Treasure Mountain Junior High School, Park City High School, McPolin Elementary School, and Parley's Park Elementary School.