Coat giveaway helping unions to keep area kids 'kozy'

Nov. 19—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — In a new light pink coat, Kaiyah Satchell got a belated present for her seventh birthday courtesy of the Greater Johnstown-Somerset Central Labor Council's Keeping Kids Kozy coat giveaway Saturday.

Kaiyah's mother Ciera thanked the workers and said that her "baby" just turned 7 years old Saturday and was able to get a new coat in her favorite color. The young girl ran around in her new coat and worked on an activity and coloring book provided by the union members as she waited.

For the second year, the Greater Johnstown-Somerset Central Labor Council helped provide local children with coats.

John Swanson, vice president of the central labor council, and local union president of United Steelworkers 2632 said that last year the council decided that they had been rebuilding over the last few years and wanted to host a coat drive.

The first Keeping Kids Kozy coat giveaway was held at the Women's Help Center but was taken mobile to local communities to meet transportation needs when turnout was initially low.

Last year, 200 coats were purchased. This year, 400 coats for children were bought for this year's giveaway along with hats, scarves and gloves.

One hour into the event, Swanson said that over 250 coats were given away.

This year, over 30 volunteers spread out to five locations extending between Windber and downtown Johnstown.

Any leftover coats, Swanson said, will be donated and he said he told individuals that attended he would take names and numbers if their sizes were not available so that all children could get a coat.

"It just makes you feel good. It's a good community service. They need this," he said of the community.

Swanson said that the drive is investing into the future.

"Kids think that even people think that. They say, 'Oh look what the union did.' That helps the union," he said. "We're not out here trying to make millions of dollars on these companies, or contracts and all this stuff. We just want a fair share and this is how we do it. We make a decent buck. We'll give it right back. So any company that we've worked for in the union is just as responsible for this event than anyone else because they pay our union wages."