For seven years, the Lowell Police Department has handed out coats, boots, gloves and hats to area kids in need of winter wear. Known as the Cold Weather Warriors program, it was initiated by Det. Gordy Lauren at the suggestion of an area resident.
“All of us here want to give back to the community,” Lauren explains. The program provides kids with necessary winter outerwear in the hopes of relieving some strain on families who may be feeling stretched thin financially.
“Sometimes the boots are the last thing on the list,” Lauren says. “[With Cold Weather Warriors], parents can focus on paying the light bill and putting food on the table.”
Who is Eligible for the Cold Weather Warriors Program
There is no application form or income verification process for the Cold Weather Warriors program. Instead, the department hands out gear to anyone who seems to be in need.
Many of the referrals come from local schools. These are cases in which teachers or staff may notice that a student is missing a hat or gloves or seems to have an inadequate coat. In some cases, neighbors may call to request gear for children living nearby. But it is also acceptable for parents facing financial hardship to call themselves and ask for coats and accessories for their kids.
Any student enrolled in Lowell Area Schools is eligible. Students who are homeschooled or enrolled in a private school and live within the Lowell city limits can also receive gear, Lauren says.
To make a request for your children or someone you know, call the Lowell Police Department at 897-7123 to reach Det. Lauren.
How to Donate to the Cold Weather Warriors Program
Cold Weather Warriors is only possible thanks to the generous support of the community. No taxpayer dollars or general department funds are used to pay for winter wear.
“There have been some very generous donations over the years,” Lauren notes.
While the department originally took in donations of coats and accessories, it now prefers to receive donations of gift cards. That eliminates the need to store items and allows the department to buy exactly what is requested.
“We can go right to the store and get them exactly what they want,” Lauren says. Gift cards to Meijer are most convenient but those for any store selling winter wear are gladly accepted.
Another way to support the Cold Weather Warriors program is to purchase a challenge coin. These collectible coins are created by different organizations, and the Lowell Police Department coin has the department’s insignia on one side and an image of Michigan on the other. The coins cost $20, and three-fourths of the proceeds go to support Cold Weather Warriors.
To drop off a gift card or purchase a coin, stop by the Lowell police station at any time during normal business hours. The station is located at 111 N. Monroe Street, inside Lowell City Hall.