Sacramento's Countrywood Head Start preschoolers get coats in time for holidays

12/19/2012 12:00 AM

12/18/2012 11:41 PM

The two classrooms and small playground that constitute Countrywood Head Start preschool were packed Tuesday with 80 children and their parents as they received an early Christmas gift.

Colorful winter coats were piled high on several tables, the result of a coat drive initiated by the preschool's supervisor and the Sacramento Police Department. The coats ranged in color from light blue to pink or gray and black with an embroidered Scooby Doo.

"I was surprised," said Tanesha Couch, whose 3-year-old daughter attends Countrywood Head Start. "(Jackets) are really expensive."

Couch picked out a pink jacket for her daughter, making sure it fit her a bit loose so she could grow into it.

Stacy Underhill, site supervisor at Countrywood Head Start, said she approached the Police Department to see if it could help provide winter coats for preschoolers in the south Sacramento community.

"Is it even possible?" Underhill said she asked the department. Providing free jackets for 80 preschoolers would be a difficult task, she said, so she considered trying to provide coats for as many children as possible.

"These are very low income, hardship families in need," she said.

But every preschooler walked away with a jacket Tuesday just in time for the holidays, thanks to the efforts of the Police Department and the Mack Road Partnership, an area business group, and two McDonald's restaurants located on Mack Road.

"It's an awesome thing to do," said Mary Hicky, general manager of the McDonald's at Mack Road and Franklin Boulevard.

Countrywood Head Start and the Sacramento Police Department's partnership began earlier this year after a SWAT standoff at the apartment complex where the preschool is located. The Police Department later helped the preschool develop a lock-down procedure.

Helping organize the coat drive was an opportunity to have positive contact with the community, said police Sgt. Roman Murrietta.

In addition to collecting coats, students were able to take pictures with Santa and play with crafts donated by the Mack Road Partnership.

"Everyone should get involved in their community," said Nicole Mata, general manager of the McDonald's at Mack Road and Valley Hi Drive. "It matters so much."

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