Student-run Coats of Friendship hands out 1,700 coats in York City

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A group of elementary school students distributed about 1,700 coats over the holiday weekend to people in the York community who needed them.

Coats of Friendship, a student-run nonprofit group, handed out about 1,400 coats on Saturday, Nov. 24, at Union Lutheran Church on West Market Street in York City, according to Tracee Rankin, mother of 10-year-old Tristan Rankin.

Tristan founded the group four years ago, his mother said.

From left, Stephanie Cates, and her 13-month-old daughter Caira Cates, both of Thomasville, look on as volunteer Joseph Kirby, of Codorus Township searches for the right sized coats as Coats of Friendship provides 1400 coats for distribution at Union Lutheran Church in York City, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

In addition to the 1,400 coats handed out at the church, Coats of Friendship also left about 400 jackets, plus scarves and blankets, at three York City parks, Rankin said — Penn Park, Albemarle Park and Farquhar Park.

"Over 300 coats were picked up," Rankin reported, adding that every coat left at Penn Park was taken and all but about 20 coats were claimed at Albemarle Park.

She said Coats of Friendship has donated 100 coats to William Penn Senior High School so far.

"And we have 200 more to drop off Friday," Rankin said.

York City Sanitary Sewer Maintenance employee Bruce Buchanan shows an accompanying note with coats that were discovered at various park locations in the city Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. The coats are being temporarily stored at the York City Parks & Forestry building. Bill Kalina photo

Monday's rain drenched the jackets in the parks that hadn't been yet been picked up, according to Philip Given, chief of staff for York City Mayor Michael Helfrich.

While Given applauded the efforts of Coats of Friendship, he encouraged groups to contact York City before leaving items on city property.

Given said city officials can help groups craft a plan that would hopefully avoid donated items from becoming waterlogged or otherwise damaged by weather.

A York City public-works crew collected the soggy garments on Monday, Nov. 26, he said.

"We've never had a problem like that before," Tracee Rankin told The York Dispatch on Monday. "It was so beautiful yesterday. ... We didn't realize it was going to rain today."

After Coats of Friendship learned of the soggy jackets, plans were made for them to be picked up by York Giving Helping Hands, a nonprofit group that Coats of Friendship works with, according to Rankin.

"They're all being washed and dried right now," she said, after which they will be distributed to needy folks by York Giving Helping Hands.

Tristan collected and distributed 70 coats in 2014 — his first year of Coats of Friendship, his mother said. He was a first-grader at the time.

In the group's second year, it gave away 705 coats, Rankin said, adding the group handed out about 2,500 coats last year.

Coats of Friendship is run entirely by schoolkids, she said.

Coats of Friendship distributes coats in York City, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Rankin said that in the future, plans will be in place to ensure jackets don't get rained on.

She said the group will distribute coats all winter.

"We still have people contacting us to give us more coats," she said.

No identification, registration or referral is needed to pick up a coat.

Each coat comes with a handwritten note,

For information on how to help, or how to pick up a coat, visit Coats of Friendship's Facebook page.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.