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Teen gives warm donation to Encompass

Teen Rick Teegarden has collected thousands of coats over the last five years for charity. He recently gave 55 coats to Encompass. - Courtesy photo
Teen Rick Teegarden has collected thousands of coats over the last five years for charity. He recently gave 55 coats to Encompass.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

It’s astonishing enough that 16-year-old Rick Teegarden walks into the Encompass main campus in North Bend lugging 55 coats of all sizes, to be passed along to youngsters who are served by the organization and who wouldn’t otherwise have warm outerwear.

The jaw drops when one realizes that the Bellevue resident has done this for five years, since he was 12, in sixth grade, and that he has collected and given away more than 5,000 coats.

The topper, however, is his nonchalant reasoning for the endeavor.

“It’s a question of ‘Why wouldn’t I do it?” he said. “You’ve got to be able to give of yourself to people around you. There’s something warm and indescribably satisfying about it. I get a lot of joy out of helping people with something as little as a coat.”

Over the years, Teegarden has given more than 150 coats to Encompass, one of more than a dozen charitable social-service Eastside organizations that distribute warm outerwear to those in need. The Sammamish High School junior calls his endeavor the Kids Care Coat Drive and has connected himself with Bellevue Youth Link

The coats, new and “gently used,” have come in handy for recipients of help from the Encompass Flood Relief Fund and for other families with low incomes.

Joining Teegarden in coat-collecting during this school year has been Danielle Fulfs, a Mount Si High School senior who befriended Teegarden at a Western Washington University business camp.

She led a multi-school drive in the Snoqualmie Valley to collect 700 coats this past year. Many of the jackets stayed in their home community by being redistributed via Encompass and the Helping Hands Food Bank.

“We just wanted to make sure some were brought back to the Valley,” Fulfs said.

She describes Teegarden as humble, passionate and driven. “He doesn’t really own up to how much he’s actually done,” she said.

Teegarden credits his parents, Janet and Jim, as big influences on his philanthropy but also cites 18th century Frenchman Jean Jacques Rousseau’s “whole person” philosophy. “To live a Rousseauian lifestyle, we have to give back to society,” Teegarden says. “A lot of high school students do this kind of thing for college resumes, but I couldn’t care less about that, because my goal is to give of myself.”

For more information on Teegarden’s drive, call him at (425) 401-8651 or (425) 351-9528, or e-mail him at kidscarecoatdrive@comcast.net.

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