One frigid winter day in 2013, a local elementary school student jumped off the school bus looking for his friends, readying for the day like he had so many times before. But his teacher immediately noticed that something didn’t seem quite right and stopped him mid-stride. On one of the coldest days of the year, the young man was wearing only one mitten. Logically, she surmised that the other must still be on the bus. It was not.
What happened next was later told to coastal Delaware Realtor Chuck Seaman by that very same teacher, a self-described gym-buddy of his. It was a defining moment in the life of the then 58-year-old, something he had trouble wrapping his head around and found impossible to walk away from.
“She asked that child why he only had one mitten and he admitted that they only had one pair, so he was letting his little brother wear the other one,” says Seaman, a long-time expert in the residential construction field who is now a Realtor with the Oldfather Group of Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s International Realty in Rehoboth Beach. “Well, I looked at her rather dumfounded and I’m sure my eyes gave away the fact that I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. But this was a true story, and one I found out later was anything but an isolated incident here in Sussex County. So, I figured I would see what I could do to help out.”
And help out he did. Over the course of the last three winters, Seaman has helped hundreds of local school children stay warm and healthy. Through his network of friends and colleagues, he has collected coats, hats, gloves and mittens, and whatever other items can be used to keep tiny bodies warm between December and March.
He started out by helping one elementary school, the one where his friend is a teacher. But this winter, three schools were aided by his generosity, and he hopes to expand his outreach program in the coming years to include as many schools as possible.
His effort has no name, there is no nonprofit designation and he has no warehouse to store the items he collects. But what he does have is a committed group of friends, colleagues and kindhearted individuals who are always willing to lend a helping hand.
“I start sending out emails usually in August and reminding people that, even though it’s warm at that time, it’s going to get cold eventually,” says Seaman. “And around the holidays, I always ask them to pick up an extra item or two for the children while they’re out shopping. I’m always surprised by their generosity; I definitely couldn’t do this without them. It makes me feel good that I can do something for these children and these families who will never know me or never meet me. But I know that their little hands and heads are warm during the winter, which makes them feel good and, in turn, makes me feel good.”
“We have many families that struggle financially at Morris Early Childhood Center in Milford and the donations of winter outerwear not only brought huge smiles to the children’s faces, but also a sense of relief to the families since their children were now dressed appropriately for cold weather,” says Dr. Beth Conaway, principal. "We are thankful and overwhelmed by the generosity of Chuck Seaman and the community.”
To help Seaman in his effort to keep area children warm during the winter, email firstname.lastname@example.org.