AUSTIN - During the holiday season, people find many different ways to give back to those in need of support. For one Austin school, they did just that Wednesday -- in an unconventional and fun way.
St. Gabriel's Catholic School has always had a foundation that encourages the students to give back to the community. Alicia Robertson is the director of institutional advancements and said this mindset has only grown through the years.
"Service learning is such a deep component for all of our students," Robertson said.
With this in mind, Robertson said St. Gabriel's decided to create a competition about 10 years ago for all grade levels to go hand-in-hand with this mentality.
"We wanted to really infuse fun into service learning and into philanthropy so the kids can have fun while they're giving back something that they own," Robertson said.
This is how "Coat Games" began, which has now turned into an annual event. The Coat Games happened all day Wednesday, as kids would go into P.E. and compete in musical chairs. What makes these games different is the kids can bring coats to use as a "save" to stay in the game if they get out. All the coats collected will go directly to the Junior League of Austin's Coats for Kids fundraiser.
"Whether you're 4 or 14, you're still giving something that belongs to you," Robertson said.
Not only giving back but having fun. Just ask 8th grader Persephone Jordano.
"People are talking about it probably a week or two in advance, getting ready," Persephone said. "Some people even buy new coats for it."
Conor McManus is also in 8th grade and has played in the Coat Games every year since he came to St. Gabriel's for preschool.
"It's a lot of fun knowing that when you lose a coat so you have extra lives, you know that it's going to a better cause," McManus said.
Once the day is over and all the coats are collected, Robertson said the staff will take the coats to a cleaner before sending them off to the Junior League of Austin for the organization's Distribution Day. Last year, St. Gabriel's was able to raise 928 coats for this cause, and Robertson said this year, they hope to break the 1,000 mark.
"I think this day is so special because the kids are giving something that belongs to them in the form of a coat to a friend who they don't even know who will be warm this winter," Robertson said.
To learn more about Coats for Kids, you can click here.
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