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Coats for kids in full swing for 20th year

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POLSON – Everyone needs a warm coat to make it through the Mission Valley winter; however, as quickly as children grow, it can be hard for parents to keep up with the need for cold-weather gear, so Anne Engebretson’s Coats For Kids program steps in. 

Engebretson started the program 20 years ago because she wanted the coats her children outgrew to be used. She manages the America’s Best Value Port Polson Inn, which serves as the home base for the project. On average, the program gives out 250 to 300 coats each year. 

People are encouraged to donate coats to the program by dropping them off at the inn. Engebretson washes the coats and stores them. To get a coat, children can be brought to the inn so they can try on a coat and take it home. The only requirement is that the child is present to make sure the coat fits well.  Families from all around the area are welcome. Children can also get mittens and hats. Local volunteers make some of the accessories. The program is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. There’s no sign-up process.

Engebretson said the program brings life to the inn during the quieter winter season. The staff at the inn help implement the program. “It has turned into a really good thing,” she said. 

According to Engebretson, both children and parents are pleased with the program. She doesn’t want the program to just keep children warm. She wants children to feel happy about their new coats. “I try to make the kids feel special,” she said. She helps them find coats that match their style. She also sets kids up with matching hats and mittens. 

This winter the program needs boys’ coats, especially in sizes 8-10 and 12-14.  Donations are accepted every day at America’s Best Port Polson Inn at 49825 U.S. Highway 93 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 


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