RIVERTON, KS.--- Kansas law enforcement officers are stepping up to help those in need. Colder temperatures have arrived and there are many kids in the area without coats. The sheriff's office saw a need throughout the county, which is why they're holding a coat drive. Riverton alone has 24 students who don't own a coat, and the sheriff says other schools are around the same number.
"There is a lot of kids that need coats in this county, and I'm sure in the area. So, we're seeing a high number of kids in need," said David Groves, Cherokee County Sheriff.
54% of the students who walk the halls of Riverton schools live in low-economic situations.
"Those are students who might receive free and reduced lunches," said Linda Wassom, Riverton High School Counselor.
5% of them are homeless.
"This is a difficult time for a lot of families. They're struggling," said Sheriff Groves.
Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves says these kind of statistics are not uncommon.
"They're pretty well even. There's not one part of the county that seems to be more in need than another," said Sheriff Groves.
The sheriff's office is teaming up with schools in Cherokee County to make sure money isn't an issue when it comes to keeping students warm this winter.
"If we can help fill a little of that gap by providing these coats, then we're happy to do so," said Sheriff Groves.
"Sometimes money is really tight lately. So, if we can help out with a coat when a student is in need, that can really take a burden off a family and help someone from being too cold this winter," said Wassom.
School Counselor Linda Wassom hopes the effort will both meet needs of families and help kids build a trust with law enforcement officers.
"Sometimes our students don't understand the job of our police officers in the community, so when they see someone in a uniform stepping up to lend a hand and help them out, then it helps them build that relationship," said Wassom.
"We interact with a lot of these kids on a regular basis, and we really care about their well-being and we want to make sure they're taken care of," said Sheriff Groves.
School officials say often times, people tend to donate more clothes for younger kids, but collecting coats in larger sizes for teenagers is just as much of a need. The sheriff's office will be collecting new and gently used coats Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon. They'll be at the Riverton Community Building, the Marvin's I.G.A. in Baxter Springs, Galena City Hall, Weir Bank, and Columbus Apple Market.
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