By Tim Rowden, originally published in the St Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune


Electrical Workers Minority Caucus coat drive warms little hearts

Each year in December, the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC) collects coats for needy and homeless children in the greater St. Louis. Over the past five years, they have collected and donated more than 10,000 coats.Brown BurksJIM BROWN (left), longtime member of the EWMC and IBEW Local 1 and Carl Burks, secretary of EWMC and a member of IBEW Local 1439 with some of the donated coats. EWMC donated approximately 250 coats to needy and homeless children this year.

Members of the IBEW Locals 1, 1439 and 1459 conduct the annual drive to help children and young adults who are in desperate need of coats, hats and gloves for the winter but whose financial conditions are such that they can’t afford them.

The annual event is topped off with a dance and coat drive, where partygoers donate coats and the price of admission is donated back to the charity. This year’s dance was held at IBEW Local 1 Union Hall. About 250 coats were collected, and the drive – for coats and cash donations – is continuing.

“Any money we raise goes back to the charity,” said Carl Burks, Sr., secretary of EWMC District 11 in St. Louis and a member of IBEW Local 1439.

“When you see these kids, they’re just happy to have a coat,” Burks said. “It’s just sad that we take so much for granted.”

The reaction of one little boy, he said, was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.

“He’s just happy to have a coat on,” Burks said. “You don’t know if he’s sleeping in the street or sleeping in a car. It makes us happy it makes our organization grow.

“As much as we take for granted a kids just wants a coats. It keeps them warm it makes them feel loved. That’ what we do, what we love to do, and we’re going to keep on doing.”

The coats are distributed through dozens of local organizations, including the Annie Malone Children & Family Service Center, Tandy Community Center, St. Vincent’s, ECHO, local city schools and several groups serving disabled children.