coats

Williston Rainbow Girls, Eastern Star and Masons donated winter apparel to area schools, including McVay Elementary. From left: Pam White, Williston Rainbow Girls; Charlie Hystad, McVay Social Worker and Tonya Brenner, McVay Principal

Students in the area are getting a warm surprise thanks to the generosity of a local service organization.

Each year, the Williston Rainbow Girls, Eastern Star and Masons host a Winter Formal for youth in the community, and each year the organizations use money raised from the event to give back to the community. The formal was held in November 2019, and brought in $7,000, which was used to help a family restore their heat, help a dance troupe purchase costumes, and provide gifts cards for a Veterans Christmas celebration.

Along with those donations, the organizations saw another need in the area and purchased over $2,000 worth of coats, gloves, hats, boots and snow pants to donate to local schools for students in need. Pam White, mother adviser for the Rainbow Girls, arrived at McVay Elementary in Williston on Wednesday, Jan. 22, delivering a large bundle of winter gear for the students. This is the first year the organizations have done the winter donations, which White said was inspired by the Coats for Kids Campaign held annually in Williston.

“It started because one of our members works out at District 8, and we had talked about the Coats for Kids program, thinking that come winter it was probably even more needed with newer kids coming in to town and families moving in and so forth and not knowing how cold it was here,” White told the Williston Herald. “She said ‘We really have a need at our school, so I’m sure there’s a need at other schools too, so that got us going.”

White has already delivered items to Garden Valley and Missouri Ridge School in Williams County Public School District No. 8, with stops at McVay and Bakken Elementary on Wednesday. McVay Principal Tonya Brenner said the items will go a long way to helping students within the school.

“I think we have a lot of families that need extra help and support,” Brenner said. “And our social worker has been working closely with families and students to try to provide for them the different items that they need.”

“We have a very diverse population,” McVay school social worker Charlie Hystad added. “There are lots of kids that are new to North Dakota and new to the school district that are coming from warmer areas where they’re not accustomed to this climate. Being new to the area, this will offer their families a lot of support to just make sure that they kids are well dressed and clothed for cold school days.”

White said she hopes the organization’s Winter Formal continues to raise enough funds that they are able to donate more winter items next year.

“I’ve been part of this community since I was 10 years old,” White said. “It’s given a lot to me, so if I can share back then I definitely want to. We want the new people coming to town to feel welcome as part of our community.”

To learn more about the Rainbow for Girls organization, visit www.gorainbow.org.

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