Norma McKiddy of ERA Branson-McKiddy Real Estate, Tecumseh, has been a REALTOR® for 39 years, but nothing in all those years has brought her more joy than seeing her vision, Coats for Kids, come to fruition and grow. After mourning the loss of her daughter in 1995, McKiddy was compelled to start the Coats for Kids ministry as a way to deal with her grief and give back to her community at the same time.
After quickly outgrowing a room donated by her church, the organization moved to a 1,100-square-foot building, which is now filled to the rim. Although most of the coats are for children, they do provide adult coats as well.
This past winter, Coats for Kids gave out 600 coats.
“When a child comes up and asks me if he can have a coat, and he tries it on in front of the full-length mirror, the look on his face touches me to the core,” McKiddy said. “If they like the way they look in the coat, they’ll like themselves, too.”
The Shawnee Board of REALTORS® recognized 80-year-old McKiddy for her service by honoring her with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
“She is an inspiration to us all,” said Shirley Davis, Shawnee’s Association executive.
The board also held an auction to help raise $6,500 for the Coats for Kids ministry. Other local businesses have also joined in on the fundraising efforts through coat drives and financial support.
“REALTORS® should get out and volunteer in some way for two reasons: to see what it does for the people in their community, and to have the joy that those people feel come back to you,” McKiddy said. “We have the joy of seeing how it lifts people.”
Coats for Kids is open October through February and has given away thousands of coats over its existence. More than 40 volunteers help McKiddy in her mission to keep the community’s residents warm.