Story and Photos by Kennedy Shanks Data News Weekly Contributor
Koats for Kids hosted its Annual Concert at Gallier Hall to recognize 14 years of service to the community and to fundraise for children in need over the holidays. From Grammy winners the Dirty Dozen Brass Band to Big Chief Darryl Montana, the benefit concert brought together musicians and artists for a good cause.
“It is all about sharing. Kindness doesn’t cost much money. Anything will help even one child,” said Jee-Yeoun Ko, a Cellist and Professor of Strings at Xavier University of Louisiana, who is the Executive Director and Organizer for the Koats for Kids Drive.
Koats for Kids receives donations year-round. Whether it is a coat, a $25 donation, or a $100 donation to support a local at-risk juvenile Musical Rehab Program, Ko shared that there are several ways to support Koats for Kids and its initiative.
A newly formed group under Koats for Kids called the “Junior Koats for Kids” helped facilitate the event as well as collect coats from concert attendees. The group comprised university students from Xavier, Tulane, the University of New Orleans, and Dillard, who volunteered at the annual event.
In addition to local universities, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the New Orleans Tourism and Cultural Fund, the Urban League of Louisiana, Loving Hearts of LA among other benefactors sponsored the event.
The demand for winter season coats is up around the country, advocates said. Due to inflation, cities in the north like Chicago, Pennsylvania, and New York, require shelter, food, and resources like coats for families in need. The average age of a homeless person is 9 years old and the need for more coats for kids without shelter in particular has been on the rise since the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020, organizers said. Koats for Kids not only provides for the communities here in New Orleans, but cities that tend to be a lot colder for a longer period and need more resources for extended, harsher winters.
Xavier’s President Reynold Verret said that support for Koats for Kids also includes a new initiative to reach out to detention centers and teach children how to compose songs. Through using the arts, the initiative will work to provide a safer environment for children to explore their abilities through music that expands creative opportunities for at-risk young people in New Orleans. To support Koats for Kids residents can donate coats to the non-profit’s website at koats4kids.com.
“We are in one of the most wealthy countries in the world, it is our responsibility to give back,” Ko said.