We all know that cold-weather clothing helps keep a child warm. But did you also know that there are other unexpected benefits to a child receiving these necessities?
1. Allows a child to go to school
“In winter my children live half-live[s]. They miss the school a lot because they don’t have proper clothes and shoes to go out,” says Silva, an Armenian mother of two boys who have to share a coat.
In places like the Shirak region in the northwestern corner of Armenia, winter temperatures can drop to as low as 20 degrees below zero at night. The biting cold makes it impossible for children to go to school without coats, boots, and other warm clothing. If children can’t attend school, they fall behind in their studies. This, in turn, makes them more vulnerable to dropping out of school at an early age and continuing the cycle of poverty.
2. Keeps a child healthy
During the winter, families in rural Armenian communities often move all their beds and necessities into one room because they can’t afford to heat more than that. Poor children, in particular, are more likely to live in overcrowded accommodations. And as we’ve learned during the pandemic, germs spread rapidly as people congregate indoors.
With warm clothing and blankets, family members can spread out more, and children can play outside in the fresh air. Without proper attire, being outside and germ-free aren’t options.
3. Helps a family stretch their income
In some countries — especially the mountainous parts of Eastern Europe — winter can last up to seven months out of the year. That means families can’t farm to earn income. What they can grow only feeds their family.
Many men work as day laborers in construction, but that’s not a stable source of income. Their meager wages must stretch to provide food and fuel for the homes. In some communities, the barren landscape offers little firewood that parents can collect for free. So they burn animal dung to heat their homes, but if they don’t own animals, they must buy the dung. After spending money on food and fuel, little is left over to buy winter clothes for children.
“My children say to me that they are cold, but what can I do? I want to warm them with my soul, but that’s not enough. My soul cannot warm them,” says Dylbere, a struggling Albanian mother.
When families get the helping hand of cold-weather clothing donations, they’re able to stretch their small income to better meet their family’s needs — warming both body and soul.
Far beyond physical warmth, the gift of a coat or boots radiates outward and helps make children a little less vulnerable.