Financially disadvantaged students  at both Bagdad Elementary School and East Milton Elementary School can now stay a little warmer thanks to a donation of coats from the First Presbyterian Church of Milton.

“We just started doing the coat donation for the first time this year,” said Betsy Dodson, the property chair for the church. Dodson said this drive not only included church members but residents from throughout the community, thanks to handout material which was previously distributed. Dodson said the church received a total of 68 coats of various sizes.

“Our church responded very well to it,” she said. “This was our first time, so we will do it again.”

On Wednesday morning, Dodson with the assistance of fellow church member Jeanette Harman visited both schools to distribute the coats.  

Upon meeting Assistant Principal Alexandra Timmons at East Milton, Dodson was unaware of the great need at the local schools.

 “I will bring it up at the church, because I did not know the poverty rate was that high,” she said.

Out of the more than 750 students at East Milton Elementary School, 87 percent of the school’s student population is considered to living in poverty due to the number of students on free and reduced lunches, according to Timmons.

“That need is there and we try to meet that need as much as we can,” Timmons said.

In order to provide for those students, the elementary school maintains a supply area containing donated clothing, shoes, socks, toiletries, among other items.

Timmons said providing those necessities also benefits the students academically.

“They have to have those basic needs met before they can become successful in school,” Timmons said.

The church’s donation could not have been received at a better time considering the cooler temperatures outside.

“We are so appreciative of this generous donation,” Timmons said. “Some of our students have out grown their winter coats, so this is a great help.”

In addition to the Presbyterian church, Timmons said the school has also benefited from charitable donations of several other organizations. However, the need continues to be present.

“There is a need throughout the school year particularly with undergarments, socks and things of that nature,” she said.

On average, Timmons said staff regularly provides at least one student with an item out of the school’s donation closet on a daily basis.