Teacher Caylor Harrison fits Lilly Miller with a new coat at Jackson Elementary Tuesday. David Grace.
KINGSPORT — Every student at Kingsport’s Jackson Elementary School got a free winter coat Tuesday morning, courtesy of a South Carolina business and its clients.
A box truck carrying 600 Hamrick's coats in colors and sizes chosen earlier this year rolled into the school.
“Every child was provided with a coat,” Principal Holly Flora said. “Our kids were delighted.”
The grades K-5 school of 557 students has 82 percent of its population eligible for free or reduced school meals. But for students who didn’t need or want the coat provided, Flora said the parents and students were asked to pass it forward by donating it to someone they knew who needed a coat or giving it to the Salvation Army or a clothes closet.
That is part of the school’s Kindness Initiative, Flora said, a program encouraging students and their families to “pay it forward.”
The more than 40 extra coats will be kept at the school for new students who may enroll there and need a coat.
The coats were purchased and donated to the school by Andrew Lacey, owner of The Lacey Group, and clients of the business, which does career coaching for Realtors.
The business is based in Lacey’s hometown of Spartanburg, S.C., but Lacey’s daughter, Laurie Guthrei, teaches third grade at the school.
Flora said the Lacey Group and client donations are done each Christmas season at different schools throughout the Southeast in lieu of exchanging gifts.
Flora said Lacey contacted the school in May about the coats project. Afterward, enrollment numbers were gathered in September and Lacey sent sample coats so teachers could determine the sizes needed and students could specify the colors they wanted.
Flora said she is proud of the Jackson students for their outreach efforts, including a recent canned food drive,