Free winter clothes for needy kids, but few takers

  1. Listen Linda Bowar talks with MPR News’ Tom Crann

A good person has to feel for Linda Bowar of Rochester, who did something about the fact that there are too many kids without appropriate winter gear for Minnesota’s dark months. Or, at least, she tried to do something.

“I know there are so many kids out there who need this,” Bowar tells the Rochester Post-Bulletin. “I see the need every day.”

So do a lot of other people, including the people who are in charge of deciding whether to cancel school, partly because kids without proper clothing would be forced to wait at a bus stop in freezing weather.

She solicited new gear from area merchants and organized a giveaway on Saturday.

Hardly anyone showed up, the newspaper reports.

The effort got started in early December when Bowar, a school bus driver for First Student, was touched by one of the kids on her bus. “I had a little boy get on my bus crying because he was so cold,” she said. “He told me his mother had no money to buy a new winter coat for him. It broke my heart.”

After her bus route, Bowar went into action. She went to the JC Penney store at Apache Mall, where she was able to tell the story and purchase at a discount a complete winter outfit for her young bus rider.

“I gave it to him that night, and the next morning his mom came with a batch of cookies they had baked,” Bowar said. “That’s when I said, ‘I’ve got to do more.'”

It wasn’t that the giveaway wasn’t publicized. It wasn’t that the location wasn’t easy to get to.

But it’s not entirely clear why so few people took advantage of Bowar’s generosity.

She’s left with dozens of new hats, coats, and mittens but is vowing to figure out a way to give them all away.