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Sioux City man honors his son with 5th year of coat donations

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Chuck Swaggerty's son, Reed, passed last summer in a swimming accident.

SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -- We're seeing a string of warmer temperatures, but those cold days are not far behind. That means it's nearly time to break out the winter coats.

But, not everyone may have one to stay warm. One Sioux City man has been making it his mission to make sure Siouxland kids stay bundled up.

He's a familiar name to many and is sort-of a Santa Claus of coats. For the past five years, Chuck Swaggerty has been gifting Siouxland kids something warm.

"I started the drive just for my kids' grade school five years ago," said Swaggerty. "I was dropping them off one day, it was below zero weather and there were a bunch of kids running to school with no coats on."

So he went to the store and bought a hundred coats. Then friends started to reimburse him for the money he spent.

"The money that came in, I just bought more coats," said Swaggerty.

And it's just grown from there. Now, 5 years later he's donated over 1,500 new coats to 10 schools. Last year, he donated nearly 400 coats.

"Some of the letters that I get, I mean each year, I just about cry," said Swaggerty. "You know a little girl writing me a letter, she got the perfect coat she always wanted. It was just the right color."

Every year, Swaggerty gets joy from those moments.

"My kids push me to do it," said Swaggerty. "They're really excited to be a part of it."

But this year's drive is a little extra close to his and his family's heart, doing it in honor of his son Reed who passed away in a drowning accident this past summer.

"Sitting down and having a conversation with my other four children, they insisted that we do it this year," said Swaggerty. "They think the community needs it just like I do."

And while Reed won't be along for the drop-offs this year, Swaggerty said it'll be a drive they won't forget.

He's already donated 40 coats so far this year. You can either donate money or drop off new coats at the Whistle Stop. Because of COVID, Swaggerty said he's also taking monetary donations via Venmo @Charles-Swaggerty-1.

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Michaela Feldmann

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