Local Resident Donates Winter Clothing to Oberlin City Schools


Courtesy of Oberlin City Schools

Staff from Oberlin City Schools sort through a recent donation of goods with an estimated value of over $12,000.

Inspired by stories of need in local communities, Elyria Realtor Tammy Koleski donated over $12,000 worth of brand-new clothes, hats, shoes, and gloves to Oberlin City Schools last Monday. Koleski has been donating to school districts and sports teams across Lorain County for the past year and a half. These donations are a team effort; Koleski’s sister, Pam Richards, scouts out discounted items and buys in bulk so that they can make the biggest impact possible.

“I always have donated in some capacity, but [I’ve] just [been] in a position to,” Koleski said. “I mean, I didn’t win the lottery or anything. It’s just what I’m getting for the price tag that I’m getting it for. It seemed crazy not to just be a kind human and do it.”

While Koleski’s first donations started out as random acts of kindness, she soon realized the positive impact of her actions.

“It’s very interesting to see a grown man cry,” Koleski said. “The first coach that I took cleats to was my daughter’s former softball coach. And as he’s taking these out of my car, … I’m like, ‘Do you have any idea what 200 pairs of cleats look like?’ And he’s like, ‘Nope.’ And as we’re emptying my car with the 10th bag and the 11th bag, his wife comes out, helps us unload it. I mean, they’re just sitting there like this, with a tear on the side of their eye going, ‘Do you know how many people this is gonna help?’ I go, ‘Absolutely, and your face says it all.’ That was just the fuel [for] the next one.”

Oberlin City Schools officials were equally delighted when they found the district’s Central Office conference room filled wall to wall with donations. Oberlin City Schools Communications Consultant Melissa Linebrink expressed the district’s gratitude.

“I was really surprised,” Linebrink said. “I have talked to Tammy in the past, and I know the great work she has done, but to be on the receiving end of that and to just hear … how happy she was to help our students, especially… during COVID-19 [when] times are tough. And just to know that somebody cares about our students enough to donate more than $12,000 worth of goods is pretty phenomenal.”

The school district is currently working on a distribution plan with Oberlin City Schools Athletic Director John Carter and Oberlin City Schools Director of Student and Family Support Jay Nimene. Superintendent David Hall is optimistic about the donation’s community impact.

“We’ll probably give out most of everything,” Hall said. “Our bus drivers help give them out to students that get on the bus that may need a hat, or maybe just gloves. Our counselors may give them out to students. … We get phone calls from parents all the time at schools, asking, ‘Do you have these things available?’ A lot of times we have them available or we contact Oberlin Community Services for support.”

According to Linebrink, Koleski’s donation is projected to benefit a wide range of students and families.

“There’s always a need,” Linebrink said. “Through this donation, … we’re able to help not only the student athletes with some of the items that they provided like cleats, but we’re also able to help those students who, you know, might need a hat, gloves, who might need a belt, who can’t afford a belt. You know, it was just little things like that, that you might not think of as everyday needs that they were able to provide for us.”

Koleski plans to expand her efforts in 2022 with the help of Richards and family friend Mary Felton. Despite her successes, challenges remain.

“The lion’s share of it is personal funds,” Koleski said. “I’m only one person. I can only do so much, so that’s why we’ve established a 501(c)3 called Wee Care Closet. … We hope to get more corporate donations and larger donations.”

Koleski is hopeful that the nonprofit will allow her to increase the number of people she can help. She also hopes to inspire others.

“The goal is to just keep it going, and maybe in our communities, people [will] see it and either make donations to us so we can continue it or go, ‘Hey, I’d like to do that at our school,’” she said.

To donate, contact Koleski at (440) 935-4910 or [email protected].