Coat-a-Kid event shows Love's dedication to youth, education
It was a crisp, blue sky morning as 20+ Love's corporate employees walked up the drive to Shidler Elementary School near SE 15th Street and Central Avenue. The group was greeted first by the smiling school office staff and then by a massive two-story red brick archway leading to the school auditorium. There's a lot of history in the walls of Shidler Elementary and quite a bit of pride in what's going on there.
On that sunny morning, the goings on included a Coat-a-Kid event with Love's and the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools. As part of a $120,000 donation to the Foundation, a large piece was earmarked to provide warm coats to kids in OKC schools who may not get one otherwise. This is part of Love's commitment to youth and education: kids cannot be expected to achieve a higher academic standard without basic necessities.
Love's employees were there to take the brightly colored coats into classrooms and help kids try on and choose that perfect winter coat.
"This event made it feel like an early Christmas," said Bill King, manager of Love's retail systems. "I heard a lot of thank yous from the kids, but what I really enjoyed was their reactions, smiles and the high fives."
Mary Melon, executive director for the Foundation for OKC Public Schools, said high fives at this school go for more than the warm coats.
"The principal here is incredibly dedicated," she said. "Just last year, the majority of these kids were reading well below grade level. He's increased the number reading on level by 30 percent, and he's focused on continuing to get that number up where it needs to be. He inspires these kids, the whole staff does, and that's what you don't see in the news stories about our schools and from the rankings."
It's those stores and many more untold incredible ones that the Love family loves to hear. Youth and education are the two main focuses for Love's charitable giving overall.
"My family and I believe in giving back to the communities where we live and work," said Jenny Love Meyer, vice president of communications for Love's. "A lot of that support is done right here at home, since our company is based in Oklahoma City. We are working closely with the Foundation for OKC Public Schools this year because it is the largest and most underfunded district in our area that was hit especially hard by state budget cuts."
Founders Tom and Judy Love are also committed to improving kids' lives and the education standard. It was Tom who earmarked the funding toward the Coat-a-Kid program in OKC public schools, and he also directed Love's partnership with The Black Chronicle Newspaper's Teacher of the Month awards.
"The sentiment that children are our future doesn't go far enough for us here at Love's," said Tom. "They truly are."