“Your body hurts when it’s cold. You can get sick; especially people who don’t have enough heat,” so said Student Council Secretary Angeline Leonard, a fifth-grader at Garfield Elementary School.

Angeline and her cohorts on the council decided to stop the pain for some less-fortunate kids this Christmas. They are raising money and gathering donations for the Salvation Army’s Wrap a Kid for the Holidays! project.

So far, Garfield students have raised enough money to buy 20 quality winter coats, but they’re not stopping there.

“On the school Christmas tree, instead of ornaments, we’re asking people to bring in scarves and gloves,” Public Relations Director Delaney Doolin said.

Where did the student council get this idea? President Rachel Whalen said she heard of a kid asking for a coat for Christmas. “One of the kids wrote, all they wanted for Christmas was a coat and it would be their best Christmas ever.” Indeed, the Salvation Army confirmed that, in lieu of toys, many parents want coats for their kids this year.

With the help of their faculty advisor, Alice Reeves, the council began collecting money from classmates. They’re also chipping in their own allowance money. The Salvation Army provided them with tags listing the child’s gender, age and size and the Forest Park students are working to fill the requests. They’re also hoping there might be enough money left to buy the toy listed at the bottom of each card.

“We ask people to donate a few dollars to school,” Vice-President Madeleine Garlisch added, “or a scarf that doesn’t fit. We’ll also take good used coats, or they can drop dollars in the Salvation Army kettle.”

The Salvation Army’s goal is to wrap 1,600 kids.

The coat drive is just the latest example of the generosity demonstrated by District 91 students. In 2004, Garfield students raised more than $3,500 for Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network. And, when they’re finished wrapping kids, they’re sponsoring a post-holiday food drive.

In the meantime, parents and staff have gotten behind the coat drive. The district office bought one and parents have been dropping off newly purchased coats. The deadline for donations is Dec. 12. Teachers will take the collected money and buy coats at the best price they can find.

The council members also talked about their political campaigns this fall. They did not make any outlandish promises-like ice cream for lunch-and only promised to be themselves. They turned out to be a very compassionate, caring crew.

So, here’s our chance to help keep some kids warm this season. Please bring your donations of money, or clothing, to Garfield Elementary by this Friday.