Walpole Community Collects Coats to Win Sheeran Show


Singer Ed Sheeran partakes in a contest for raising coats for kids.

Hannah McLaughlin


Singer Ed Sheeran partakes in a contest for raising coats for kids.
Singer Ed Sheeran partakes in a contest for raising coats for kids.

On January 25, 2013, 45 trash bags sat in a heap in the front lobby of Walpole High School, their contents waiting to be transported to their first of many destinations. No, these bags were not filled with trash from the school cafeteria, nor did they contain a collection of cans and bottles to be recycled at a later date; rather, the pile of plastic bags contained something far more valuable: the promise of a safe, warm winter for children and families in need.

In early January, the Walpole High School Student Council challenged the WHS staff and student body to collect as many new or used coats to benefit the Big Brother Big Sister foundation, as they hoped to enter the “Mix 104.1 Karson and Kennedy’s Koats for Kids Contest.” However, this competition was vastly different from ordinary radio contests, for it promised the winning school a unique grand prize in which up-and-coming music sensation Ed Sheeran agreed to play a private concert for the winners. Upon hearing the Sheeran-inspired incentive, coats quickly accumulated in designated bins at WHS, thus identifying Walpole as a tough contender in New England’s fight to help those in need.

Since 2012, Ed Sheeran’s popularity has escalated significantly, as the artist went from virtually unknown outside of the UK to the talk of teenagers across the globe in a time span of less than one year. The contest coordinators at Mix 104.1 grabbed the attention of 28 high schools from across the station’s listening area, as the promise of a Sheeran sing-a-long at a specific school excited thousands of fans in New England. In reference to Walpole’s desire to participate, sophomore Lucy Lynch said, “I think it was a really great project because so many students like Ed Sheeran, so the incentive of his performance brought in a lot of coats.”

After the conclusion of the contest on January 23, 2012, students waited anxiously for any word on the contest winner. Walpole’s coats were collected on Friday, January 25 following the conclusion of midyear exams. The winning school, Notre Dame Academy in Hingham, MA, was notified of their success on Monday, January 28 during the Karson and Kennedy morning show. After collecting almost 2,900 coats, NDA was rewarded with an intimate concert from Sheeran. The contest was a success, as more than 25 schools across New England collected a grand total of 12,000 coats. Despite Walpole’s loss, students felt both pride in their school’s attempt and anticipation for next year.  “I think it was a great idea to get students involved with charity work. However, I also think we should have had enough time to collect an even greater amount of coats than we did,” said sophomore Ania Egan. In total, Walpole High School collected 228 coats, which will be distributed to families in need of them. Student Council Advisor Ms. Kerry McMenimen said, “I thought [the contest] went awesome!  I think if we had more time to collect coats we could have doubled the amount. I can’t want to try again next year.”