2-year-old and family deliver 175 donated coats to Charlotte Fire Department

Coat collection bins are at all 43 Charlotte Fire Stations

2-year-old and family deliver 175 donated coats to Charlotte Fire Department

Seven years ago on Nov. 14 the Ackermans lost their son, JJ (Joseph James Ackerman), due to a stillbirth.

Now on his birthday every year, the Ackerman family asks others to join them in performing random acts of kindness in his name.

“We love seeing all of the unique ways people participate,” she said.

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This year, due to COVID-19 and social distancing, the Ackermans wanted to create a safe option for people to participate.

“I’m a big fan of Steve Udelson, and Steve’s Coats for Kids is always a charity we like to take part in,” Kelly Ackerman said. “I have also loved all of the birthday parades that have taken place throughout this pandemic and thought it would be the perfect idea to combine the two and make it a birthday donation parade.”

The coat collection was a huge success, and Sunday the family delivered the 175 donated coats to the Charlotte Fire Department Station 28.

The Charlotte Fire Department has once again opened up its doors to take new and gently worn coats for Steve’s Coats for Kids.

Last year, the community donated thousands of coats at Charlotte Fire Department stations.

The department partnered with WSOC-TV for the annual Steve’s Coats for Kids campaign and collected coats from Charlotte and Mecklenburg County residents.

“The fire department provides all hazard service to the community, but we’re engaged in more than just that,” said Charlotte Fire Department Chief Reginald Johnson. “We’d like to fill gaps where gaps are identified and providing coats to children. It’s just one of those gaps that we want to participate in.”

WSOC-TV’s Steve’s Coats for Kids campaign was introduced in 2005. All coat donations are distributed through Crisis Assistance Ministry, an independent nonprofit agency focused on preventing homelessness and preserving dignity for Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s working poor.

“Even one coat could make a difference in a child’s life. Whether they’re standing waiting for the bus or walking to school, it provides a basic need,” Johnson said. “It provides a little bit of self-confidence and improves self-esteem.”

Charlotte Fire Department delivered thousands of coats during at the January 2020 Steve's Coats for Kids collection.
Charlotte Fire Department delivered thousands of coats during at the January 2020 Steve's Coats for Kids collection.

Steve’s Coats for Kids has collected over 200,000 coats, and every donated coat spends less than 48 hours in the Crisis Assistance Ministry Free Store before benefiting someone in need.

Coat collection bins are at all 43 Charlotte Fire Stations.

The Charlotte Fire Department, along with its firefighters, has been an amazing partner and their role will be crucial in the success of this year’s Steve’s Coats for Kids campaign.

You can donate new or gently worn coats at any of these 9 Family Focus partner locations: Showmars, Ashley HomeStore and E.R. Plumbing Services.

If you have an inspiring story, please contact Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte Public Affairs Manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.