Young refugees living in Oakland in need of winter coats

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- As the weather gets colder and the rains begin in the Bay Area, one group of newcomers is in desperate need of coats and uniforms.

They are the unaccompanied minors from Central America. One Oakland school in particular gets about five to eight of these kids a week.



He's barely 7 years old yet Henry's story of resilience has spread far beyond his school in East Oakland.

Two weeks ago, Henry approached his teacher wet and cold from the rain. "He said, 'I don't have a coat but I had to come to school. I want to learn. The rain can't stop me,'" Oakland Public Education Fund's Brian Stanley said.

Stanley heard about Henry's ordeal from his teacher. "She called and said, 'Can you guys do anything to help this kid out?' So we said well is it just one kid or how many kids? And they said, 'It's like 30,'" he recalled.

Within days, coats were delivered to the Bridges Academy at Melrose in Oakland to students who have come across the U.S.-Mexican border.

"They were thrilled, bright smiles. I overheard that one of the students said, 'Oh, my mom is going to be so happy that I received this coat,'" Henry's teacher said.

Twenty percent of the students here are newcomers from different parts of Central America, escaping the violence in their countries. As expected, they come with just a few clothes and certainly no coats.

"It's much cooler here than in their native towns, so they don't come here prepared for being here in the cold and rain," another teacher said.

Most of them are awaiting deportation hearings to see if they will have to return.

There are still others who need more clothes. The Oakland Public Education Fund is reaching out to donors to help them buy new coats and new uniforms.

"I like it, no freezing," student Brian Ramirez said. He and others are learning to adjust to their new lives with the help of others.

Click here if you'd like to help.
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