Santa Clara Valley Legal Aid’s third annual Winter Coat Drive

It is a few days before Christmas. The sounds of footsteps, clatter and laughter scatter in the single-file line. The kids are waiting with anticipation to see Santa at the North Fillmore Community Storefront. Every year the Fillmore Volunteer Fire Department and other civic organizations collect donated toys to give to the kids who would otherwise not be getting toys this Christmas.

There are more children in this line than in years past. My seven-year-old looks on with awe and curiosity. I tell him that many children are not getting presents this year because their parents have lost their jobs, lost their homes or there just isn’t anything extra to buy presents; that in this line where they stand exposed to the late afternoon chill for their one toy it will be their only Christmas present. He goes quiet. With saucer eyes he indignantly asks: “Mom, why won’t Santa give presents to these kids?”

I look at the line with a different kind of awe. None of the kids have on coats. My mind judges immediately: “Did the children forget their coats? They knew it was cold and that the wait was long.” The line snaked as the little boy tucked into his mother and the realization hit me like the
cold wind – he didn’t forget his coat. He doesn’t have a coat.

Please join Santa Clara Valley Legal Aid’s third annual Winter Coat Drive. On December 21st we will be giving away brand-new warm winter coats to needy children of the Santa Clara Valley who are standing outside in line in Fillmore to receive their toy from Santa. Please donate either checks or brand new coats with hoods and with tags. There are no “administrative” costs. You send the checks and my teams go and buy the coats. We all feel the effects of this economy and know that there are very financially challenged families who cannot provide warmth for their kids this winter.

If you would like to join this community of generosity, you can send checks to:

Winter Coat Fund, c/o Laura Bartels, 540
Sespe Avenue, Suite #2, Fillmore, CA 93015,
or to Winter Coat Fund at the Santa Clara
Valley Bank, 527 Sespe Avenue, Fillmore,
CA 93015 Account #002-112027 or go
to and make a
donation using Paypal. Your donation is

As Marion Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund says:
“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
A warm coat makes a big difference.
Laura Bartels practices with Taylor, Scoles
and Bartels in Fillmore.