Ironically the coats sorting for WRAL-TV’s 2016 Coats for the Children Campaign had to be rescheduled due to the winter weather Mother Nature dished out in early January. However, volunteers, including WRAL-TV Anchor/Reporter Ken Smith, gathered at the Salvation Army on the MLK Day of Service on Monday, January 16, 2017, and sorted the 6,423 coats generously donated by WRAL viewers.
The 28th Annual WRAL-TV Coats for the Children Campaign turned out to be the most successful yet. The campaign raised $150,518, the highest total in the almost three decades of the station’s community-focused effort. In addition to the funds raised and 6,423 coats donated, viewers also donated 408 hats, gloves and scarves and 114 toys.
“People are so amazingly generous in our community,” said WRAL-TV Anchor/Reporter Debra Morgan. “They trust us to relate the incredibly heart-wrenching stories heard straight from the families turning to the Salvation Army for help. Our viewers always respond in a huge wave of support. In my now 24 years of being a part of this project, it can be overwhelming to feel that love of neighbor helping neighbor.”
Morgan participated in the Coats for the Children Telethon which aired live, including a volunteer phone bank in Studio A, on Friday, December 9th. She helped emcee the broadcast, inviting viewers to call in pledges and donate warm winter coats and clothing, along with new toys.
“What a treat to have the incomparable Charlie Gaddy with us for the 2016 telethon!” she said of the retired WRAL-TV and legend. “No one knows how to connect with people, either in person or through the TV screen, like Charlie so what a thrill that was for me to have my friend by my side this year.”
Morgan pointed out that it takes a village to put together the annual campaign and telethon.
“I wish everyone could talk with the people in the companies who volunteer to answer phones, raise money, and collect coats for our project,’ she said. “They absolutely put their hearts into this campaign and I’m grateful for their hard work.”
Smith is also a passionate supporter of WRAL-TV’s Coats for the Children Campaign. He always volunteers to work on the phone bank, answering viewer calls. And he pitched in to help sort coats at the Salvation Army this year, too.
Because of the snow and ice in the Triangle, the sorting was moved from a Saturday to the Martin Luther King Day Monday.
“With that in mind, l invited my youth group from Avent Ferry United Methodist Church to help sort Coats,” explained Smith. “We had a great time! The best part was the amount of youth giving of their time and energy to help.”
Helping with Coats for the Children is near and dear to Smith’s heart.
“I am always proud of our commitment to this campaign,” he said. “As a child, l would have been the recipient of one of these coats if l lived in the US. When my family immigrated to the US Virgin Islands, we didn’t have much. Volunteering for the phone bank and sorting Coats for the first time are among the ways l pay my blessings forward.”
Thanks to all the generous WRAL-TV viewers who contributed coats, clothing, toys and financial donations to the 2016 Coats for the Children. And thanks to the many volunteers who helped on the telethon phone banks and with the coats sorting.
As The Salvation Army of Wake County Director Public Relations and Communications Lizzy Adams told the WRAL-TV staffers, “We always say ‘It Takes An Army’ to provide for the community – thank you for being a part of our Army family.”
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Ken Smith & WRAL-TV’s Phyllis Parish for these capcom photos and videos.