Ja’Nelle, a student at Bethune Arts Magnet School, walked into the gymnasium with wide eyes, as she saw tables of new coats and winter hats. She browsed her sizes briefly, looking at all the different colors before narrowing in on a sky blue coat with pink lining.
“It looks like cotton candy,” she said. “I love it.”
Ja’Nelle and the rest of the students at the Minneapolis school are getting help to prepare for winter weather, with the help of a UnitedHealthcare grant.
The Dreambuilders Foundation received a $20,000 UnitedHealthcare donation to purchase 450 new warm coats, hats and wellness kits for the students — who otherwise may not have access to winter gear.
UnitedHealthcare employee volunteers along with school staff and Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks dedicated their morning to making sure students received those key essentials during a distribution event.
“Our mission is to help people have healthier lives and we know that the only way to achieve that is through strong community partnerships,” said Brett Edelson, UnitedHealthcare CEO of Minnesota. “This is just one example of working with the school to identify the needs of the kids that they serve and finding a way to support them.”
Kelly Woods, the principal at Bethune Arts Magnet School says the greatest reward — aside from receiving a new winter coat — is the lesson in kindness.
“We talk a lot about being kind to each other and just looking out for each other,” Kelly said. “This event just reinforces that they can see it happening to them because people are coming here and showing kindness and it’s a great thing for them to witness and be a part of. We really appreciate it.”
For Ja’Nelle, her new winter coat will replace last year’s that she says was a few sizes too small.
“It was from a couple of years ago because I don’t have many coats. It was tight on my wrists and then when I would zip it, it wouldn’t zip up,” she said. “I couldn’t really move my arms.”
She said getting a new coat makes her feel happy, knowing it will help her stay warm all winter long.
“This blue and pink is my favorite color,” she said. “And I can move around in it.”