BELLEVILLE – With the winter weather fast approaching, the Adopt-A-Child winter clothing program is getting ready to keep kids warm in Hastings County for the 29th year.
The program identifies low-income, working families in the area who may not be able to afford warm winter clothing. Last year, it helped clothe 1,250 kids. In 1987, it helped 117 kids.
When the program started, it ran as a Christmas campaign and functioned with Christmas Sharing and the Toy Drive. However, Det-Const. Ann Earle-Dempsey says that giving out on the week of Christmas was not realistic.
“A snowsuit is not a Christmas present. It’s a necessity,” said Earle-Dempsey of the Belleville Police Service .
Since then, the program has started earlier. Families can put their name on a list as early as mid-September and pickups begin the first week of November.
Earle-Dempsey, who is also the chair of the organization, says that when families sign up they do not ask to see proof of income.
“If they are a single parent making a decent wage, that is still not [paying for] half a mortgage, it’s not half a hydro bill, it’s still expensive.”
Families are provided a brand new snowsuit and boots, free of charge.
Vice chair Barb Lea said they are willing to help anyone who needs it.
“Anyone who comes to us will be given a snowsuit, granted they live in our area.”
Lea added that if people choose to come from outside areas, such as Deseronto or Tyendinaga, they are happy to help them.
Although they assist many areas today, back when it started, it was a collaboration only between the Belleville Police Service and Quinte Broadcasting.
The group now works with three police forces, receives donations from the public and works with sponsors such as TD Bank branch on North Front and College Streets.
If you wish to help, donating winter clothing and money is not the only way. Lea says they are always looking for more help.
“We very much appreciate people donating their time.”
Though the program seems busiest during the early winter, the group sources snow attire all year. Earle-Dempsey isn’t sure how many items they have but says the storage unit is full.
“It’s a 10-by-20 foot unit. So there is lots of snowsuits and boots waiting for us.”
Lea said all snowsuits and boots are brand new. Those wanting to donate gently used winter clothing will be redirected to the Salvation Army  and those looking to sponsor a child can contact Quinte Broadcasting .
Registration ends September 30.