A Heartwarming Story of a School Nurse, a Little Girl and Two Coats

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It is a privilege to work at Operation Warm, where we get to see heartwarming stories first hand, often while they unfold in front of us.

Some heartwarming stories just seem to stay with you.

Kirsten Bradley has been with Operation Warm for more than three years and has seen many heartwarming stories. We asked her to share one with us. Here is her story.

“We were in Columbus, Ohio. The events are fun and busy. There is music and a lot going on.  The school nurse caught my attention. She pulled me aside and said, “This little girl is a kindergartener, and she really needs a larger-size coat. This coat is a little too snug for her. The coat actually fit fine, but she wanted her to be in a larger size,” Kirsten says.

As we have learned from experience, nurses, teachers, parents and even the children themselves often ask for a coat that is larger. They know they might not get another coat for a while and want to make sure the coat will still fit for as many years as possible. It is a common story that is both heartwarming and heart breaking.

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Kirsten continues, “The little girl really did not seem comfortable with giving up her coat, the one she was wearing. She had her hands wrapped around the collar and she was holding on to it very tightly. I asked her if we could take off her coat so she could try on the next size.  And she looked almost scared and uncomfortable.”

“I asked her to pick out another coat in the larger size and told her not to worry about anything; she could have both the coats. She wouldn’t have to take off the coat that she was wearing. She was sort of reserved and seemed a little overwhelmed, but she did her best to give me a smile. That warmed my heart.”

Usually at Operation Warm coat giving events, kids take turns coming to the event space with their classmates. They get fitted, choose a coat and enjoy other activities before heading back to the classroom, making room for the next class. The Kindergarten children had already gone back to their classrooms and Kirsten was in the middle of helping another group of children when she spotted a familiar face.

“The school nurse came back and said, ‘The teacher suggested I come tell you what just happened,’” Kirsten says. “My first reaction was, ‘Are you going to make me cry?’”

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“She proceeded to tell me that the little girl and her mother were living out of their car and had nothing. The reason the little girl was so reluctant to give up the coat was because it was the only thing she had. It was new, and she picked it out, and it was special. And so, I burst into tears and had to leave the space for a moment. Then I went back and moved on with the rest of the event.  This happens all of the time. You meet children whose stories impact you, and you hope and wish they are going to be okay.”

“Flash forward about a month later and someone sent me a video, and there was the little girl, outside wearing both of the coats we had given her and smiling from ear to ear. And, I burst into tears again. It really demonstrated to me that a lot of times they are okay when we leave them, and the impact of the coat is so much more than the physical aspect of the coat and keeping them warm. I saw the happiness it brought this child, and I saw how much it meant to her.  It was amazing. That’s it.”

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