CINCINNATI — As a First Student bus driver in Minnesota organized a coat drive to help hundreds of children this winter, the contractor partnered with Cincinnati schools to provide access to a free after-school ice skating program for students.

One morning last December, the wind chill in Rochester, Minnesota, was minus 23 when driver Linda Bowar picked up one of her students. The student was not wearing a coat. When Bowar asked him why he was not dressed appropriately for the weather, the student said his family could not afford a coat.

Bowar was inspired to help not only this student, but others in the community she serves. With the support of the First Student location in Rochester, Bowar organized a coat drive that she named “Operation Cold Kidz.” Bowar contacted numerous department stores in Rochester and received hundreds of donations of new coats, hats, gloves and scarves.

“We were honored to serve our local community in this way,” said Jon Goetz, location manager of First Student Rochester. “The smiles on the faces of all the children who received these new items warmed all of our hearts. Linda’s compassion for her student riders and our community of Rochester will have a lasting legacy in Operation Cold Kidz.”

The location distributed the coats and other items last month to benefit more than 200 children in the Rochester area.

First Student provided students in Cincinnati with transportation to a free after-school ice skating program.

First Student provided students in Cincinnati with transportation to a free after-school ice skating program.

Meanwhile, more than 150 Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) students had a chance to lace up skates and enjoy the Fountain Square ice rink as a part of the School Skates program. For many of the students, this was their first time ice skating.

First Student, which provides transportation for CPS, partnered with the YMCA and Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) to provide students who are enrolled in a YMCA after-school program access to the ice rink at no cost. The School Skates program is now in its sixth year.

First Student provided free round-trip transportation from each of the four participating schools. Additionally, 3CDC enabled students to skate free of charge. School Skates ran every Thursday afternoon at Fountain Square from 3:30 to 5 p.m. through Feb. 12.

“The School Skates program helps to create lasting memories for students, and we are pleased to partner with Cincinnati Public Schools, the YMCA and 3CDC,” said Dennis Maple, president of First Student. “First Student readily embraces opportunities to be involved in the Cincinnati community. We recognize the positive impact that we can have on students and families extends beyond the school day.”

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