Kiwanis provides coats for children in Macedonia

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Vesna Palmer, a former resident of Macedonia, and Kiwanis Club member, recently spearheaded a coat project to clothe 40 girls with coats and boots. Palmer is holding a Macedonian newspaper that published a story about Steamboat Springs last summer.

— Many students living in Steamboat Springs wouldn't give coats and boots a second thought.

But for many students living in Macedonia, coats and boots are luxury items.

Steamboat Springs resident Vesna Palmer, who is from Macedonia, recently asked the local Kiwanis Club to donate money to a nonprofit Macedonian group to purchase 40 coats and 10 pairs of boots for several minority Turkish female students.

"Buying a coat is a six-month salary for most families," Palmer said Wednesday. "The whole region is very poor. I know the need there and there is a tremendous need there."

Palmer moved from Mac-

edonia more than 20 years ago. She said winters in Macedonia, a landlocked country on the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe, are very similar to Steamboat Springs.

"Winters are harsh, cold and wet," she said.

The girls who received the coats live in three remote villages in Eastern Macedonia. The coats allow the girls to attend education classes provided through a nonprofit organization called INFOBUS.

INFOBUS is a mobile education service designed to reach disadvantaged communities.

"Without the coats and boots, the girls were walking three or four miles to get to the classes" she said. "In Muslim communities, girls are less exposed to education. They often don't go. It is very difficult for them."

The Macedonian Coats 4 Education Project is the first international project the Steamboat Kiwanis Club has undertaken, Palmer said.

Steamboat Springs Rotary Club also has sent computers, books and donated clothing to Macedonia, Palmer said.

Palmer said she is eager to send more items to Macedonia, but shipping costs can be prohibitive. That's why the Kiwanis Club chose to send money to Macedonia to purchase coats.

Johanna Russell, Kiwanis Club secretary, said the club was eager to help Palmer with her proposal.

"She brought her idea to us and we thought it sounded like a great project," she said.

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