The Coeur Group in the News
There’s a small office near the front of Borah Elementary that has closets full of clothes for students that need them.
Shoes and boots of all different sizes fill tubs while gloves, socks and underwear occupy the shelves. Boys and girls clothes, winter coats and backpacks fill the rest of the space.
The Locker Project — funded by The Coeur Group, a group of local businessmen who do community projects — provides students with clothing items they might need, but might not be able to afford.
Since 2006, The Coeur Group has been installing and stocking “lockers” in Coeur d’Alene schools. The project started when the group was contacted by Coeur d’Alene High school. The school had many students who were homeless or couldn’t afford new, clean clothes, especially around winter time.
Now, 15 schools have lockers.
“Each school’s needs are different,” said The Coeur Group president, Dustin Ainsworth. “There’s a Coeur Group ambassador for each school who keeps in touch to see what their needs are.”
Borah Elementary School has had its locker project for about five years. School counselor Adam Foote said about 10 to 15 percent of the student body uses it.
“I had a girl and her sister come down. One of the teachers tipped me off that they were homeless; their family was living out of a motel room and they needed fresh clothes,” Foote said. “The older sister didn’t want to take anything. It was a hard time in her life and it was hard for her to accept help.
“But ever since she got the clothes, she runs up to me in the hall and gives me a big hug.”
Foote said the locker at Borah Elementary goes through gloves really fast. Shoes can be an issue, too. If the school doesn’t have the right size for one of its students, it will contact another school in the district to see who does.
Coeur Group member Matt Anderson tours each school with the principals and counselors to determine the best place for the locker. Once a location is decided upon, he takes measurements and gets donated materials from his family’s company, Tapley Cabinet Works.
The Coeur Group builds the shelving or closets that are needed and helps the schools install them.
The Coeur Group’s goal has been to build lockers at two schools each year and present the school with $2,000 to buy an inventory. This year, The Coeur Group gave lockers to Ramsey and Atlas elementary schools.
On top of the startup costs, The Coeur Group also gives each school with a locker $500 each year to maintain it.
Borah Elementary School Principal Rick Kline said the locker gets a lot of use and he’s thankful The Coeur Group sticks around.
v “It’s easy to come into a school, build the lockers and say ‘here you go,’” Kline said. “But these guys are great. They see our needs and help supply the locker. They see it through.”
The kids at Children’s Village will soon have new playground equipment thanks to the efforts of the Coeur Group and a $10,000 donation from the Hartford Hope Foundation.
The new playground items will replace outdated equipment now in place at Children’s Village, a nonprofit that provides residential care for children who have been abused, neglected or whose families are in crisis. “From the moment the Coeur Group saw our need to replace our outdoor play structure, they made it their mission to make it happen. We couldn’t be happier they stepped up and made this dream come true for our children,” said Janet Davis, Children’s Village executive director.
Coeur Group member Brent Schreiber brought Children’s Village to the attention of the Hartford Hope Foundation, a family foundation formed by Doris Hartford. Schreiber’s great-grandmother, Dorothy, was Hartford’s twin sister. Dorothy had six children who Hartford, an attorney, treated as her own. Before her death, Mrs. Hartford decided to form a foundation in which Dorothy’s children would donate a portion of her wealth each year to a charity of their choice. This year, Children’s Village is one of those charities.
The Coeur Group comprises young businessmen representing various industries in the local community. Through the years, the group has donated thousands of hours to support local schools, nonprofits and charities. Members of the Coeur Group will build and install the new playground equipment this fall with the help of Clearwater Summit Group.
“The Coeur Group allows our members to get involved with projects to benefit our community by getting our hands dirty and having a fun time supporting each other. We’re fortunate to have great ties within our city to help organizations that provide the difficult services in extraordinary times of need of our fellow citizens,” said Coeur Group President Dustin Ainsworth.
HAYDEN — When Atlas Elementary students find themselves needing fresh clothes, new shoes or other personal items, they now have a way to fill those needs.
Through its Locker Program, the Coeur Group installed a special cabinet in the school's teachers lounge so kids who are without basic items can have access to what they are missing.
"Our biggest needs are usually clothing items," Atlas principal Heather Somers said. "I think people sometimes don't understand how the funding in the school works. There is no specific fund source to help the kids. We do rely on our parents, the PTA, donations ... however, it's nice in the immediate moment when there's a crisis — the house burns down, they're going into foster care, they're going somewhere that they need help immediately — to me, this really makes a difference for us to immediately fill the needs of those kids."
On Friday, members of the Coeur Group met with Somers and vice president Kathy Livingston to present them with a $2,000 check to stock the cabinet and celebrate Atlas joining the several other schools in the community that have a "locker." The presentation was also attended by Lola Hagadone, who, with her daughter, Paige Leifer, attended an Excel Foundation event last fall and bid the highest to have their names on a plaque on the cabinet. All of those funds went to Excel, which grants funds to teachers for innovative classroom projects.
The "locker" cabinet at Atlas has several shelves and a coat rack and is known as the "Explorer's Bunker," named for the school mascot. "I was so pleased to get to meet the people from the Coeur Group and to see all these young men be so committed and caring about the children in our schools," Hagadone said. "It really opened my eyes to see the need. I will continue to make contributions and encourage people in the community to meet with these young men and see the need."
The Coeur Group is a collection of young businessmen in the Coeur d'Alene area representing various industries in the community. The group has installed these special lockers in more than a dozen schools.
Borah Elementary's locker has been in place for more than three years. Principal Rick Kline said 91 percent of Borah's student population is on free or reduced school lunches, so the locker is always in use. It is usually filled with clothing items, from knitted hats and winter coats to undergarments, jeans and shirts of all sizes.
"Everybody just pitches in to do whatever it takes to make our kids and their families successful," he said, adding he wanted to thank the Coeur Group and everyone behind the Locker Program.
Bryan Elementary also experiences a high poverty rate. Principal Kristin Gorringe said their locker is managed by the parent-teacher association, which keeps inventory and makes sure the locker is stocked. She said they are working to make it more of an anonymous process so students can privately request items such as toiletries and clothing.
"Many of our kids come to us with needs, everything from school supplies to shoes and coats," she said. "The locker's been a great resource for us. If the kids need something, we can meet that need right away. It's just a matter of walking to the locker and providing them with whatever they need." She said the Coeur Group and the caring individuals who help make the Locker Project possible are "a perfect example of people in our community supporting not just education, but supporting our kids."
"This is a result of people wanting to do good things for us," Gorringe said.
For information or to donate to the Coeur Group's Locker Program, visit www.thecoeurgroup.com.
Operation Coat Drop delivers 207 coats to Kootenai County schools
More than 200 girls in Kootenai County schools are a little bit warmer today after receiving donations of brand-new coats in December.
The Coeur Group, along with Macy's and Rita Case, teamed up for "Operation Coat Drop" to deliver the 207 coats to girls in need.
The coats were donated through Macy's "Buy 1 & We'll Give 1" campaign in partnership with Clothe4Souls, a division of the group Soles4Souls that collects and distributes clothing to people in need. Together they donated more than 30,000 coats nationwide.
Case, of Rick Case Automotive Group, recruited the program to the local Macy's store after she recently moved to Coeur d'Alene. She contacted the Coeur Group to distribute the coats through the group's Locker Project.
The Coeur Group, a group of businessmen who dedicate time to charity, launched the Locker Project after Pam Asher, Lake City High School counselor, approached them with the idea to install supply lockers at schools, stocked with clothing, toiletries and other items students may need throughout the year. So far, 13 lockers have been installed at individual schools across Kootenai County.
At the EXCEL Foundation's Big Event last November, the Coeur Group auctioned off its 14th locker, bringing the group closer to the goal of having a locker in each of the 17 schools in the Coeur d'Alene School District. The locker was purchased by Lola Hagadone and Paige Leifer, who have purchased lockers in the past for local area schools.
Included with each locker is a check for $2,000 to stock the locker with supplies specific to the needs of each school, and a member of the Coeur Group is assigned to work with the school to ensure the lockers remain stocked throughout the year.
Information about the Coeur Group is available at www.thecoeurgroup.com.
The Coeur Group has slated its gubernatorial debate for noon on Oct. 3 in the Coeur d'Alene Public Library's Community Room.
According to co-founder Jimmy McAndrew, the young professional group has confirmed at least four of the six candidates will debate.
"Today is the deadline for the candidates to confirm," he said, adding that independent candidate Jill Humble declined to participate.
McAndrew was still waiting to hear from constitution party challenger Steve Panky.
So far, McAndrew said those who have confirmed their attendance are Republican incumbent Gov. Butch Otter, Democrat challenger A.J. Balukoff, libertarian challenger John Bujak and an independent candidate who changed his name to Pro Life.
"I think this is going to be an interesting election," McAndrew said.
It will be a debate-style event, with the candidates all standing on stage and fielding question from members of the Coeur Group panel.
"Each candidate will have an opportunity to answer the questions," McAndrew said. "We will rotate who goes first to keep things as objective as possible and as personal as possible."
The panelists will be McAndrew, Brent Lyles and Peter Smith, with Smith moderating the debate and managing follow-up questions when they arise.
"Peter is an attorney and he always does a great job in that position," McAndrew said.
Candidates will not get a preview of the questions they will be asked and McAndrew said only a handful of people know what the questions will be.
The research committee which helped develop the questions consisted of TJ Barnhart, James Noel, JR Norvell, Ben Miller and Kory Wilson.
McAndrew said a lot of thought went into the development of questions to ensure they don't elicit canned responses.
"We are working real hard to develop real questions," he said. "I think there will be some questions that might trip a few of them up."
The debate will be covered live on Coeur d'Alene TV channel 19, and it will be re-run several times before the election.