SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Buying winter boots or having the resources to wash clothes isn’t easy for all families.

In fact, roughly half of the students in the Sioux Falls School District qualify for free or reduced meals.

Cleveland Elementary principal Stacey Stefani wants all kids to have the right winter clothing.

“I think a lot of our kids forget how cold it gets here and show up just in a sweatshirt or sometimes they’ll not have boots or snow pants,” Cleveland Elementary principal Stacey Stefani said.

That’s when she turns to this closet at school, full of coats, boots and more, and gives kids what they need.

It came in handy for 11-year-old Christina Lone Elk, when she walked to school and underestimated just how cold it was outside.

“She asked if I was cold or anything and I said, ‘Yeah, I’m pretty freezing,’ and so she was like, ‘Come on. I’m going to find you some hats and gloves,'” Student Christina Lone Elk said.

A partnership between Levo Credit Union and the Sioux Falls Storm helps make this extra support possible.

Since 2017, the two have been raising money for Operation Hope and Caring.

From underwear to money for field trips, the funds help fill needs at Sioux Falls schools.

“Things like this that we don’t think kids should go without, that’s an obvious cause for us to support,” said Jen McKeown with Levo Credit Union.

In some cases, the money from the partnership has even helped some Sioux Falls schools get washers and dryers.

“Back a few years ago, one of the principals became aware that some of the kids weren’t able to wash their clothes. They didn’t have a way to wash their clothes at home,” McKeown said.

For Stefani, providing winter clothing helps level the playing field for her students.

“I want them all to have the same opportunities and be able to experience all the things that kids get to experience and one of those is actually being outside in South Dakota weather. Whether it’s cold or not, they just love being out in the snow,” Stefani said.

You can help support Operation Hope and Caring by going to a fundraiser at Air Madness on February 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

You can also buy coffee or a mug at Levo branches to help out.

If you’re a football fan, Sioux Falls Storm tickets for the April 29th game will also help benefit the cause.
For all the information or to make a direct donation, click here.