Can a New Coat Help You Get to College?


Monroe is nestled in northern Louisiana. Just north of the city, birds and alligators make their home in the cypress swamps of Black Bayou, and there is probably not an adult alive in Monroe who can’t tell you about another local native, Coca-Cola, first bottled right there by the Biedenham Candy Company.

Deep in the City of Monroe is Madison James Foster Elementary, considered the lowest social economic school in the area. This is one of the poorest schools in the poorest city of one of the poorest states in America.

The richest part of the school is its mission statement, and Principal Harris’s commitment for every child to SOAR:

  • Succeed
  • Overcome
  • Achieve
  • Respect

The majority of the 385 students who attend are considered “high poverty” students, and have little access to the basic things that most of us take for granted.

But even if the students don’t have much in material goods, they do have people who care. The school has been gifted with a washer and dryer, a food bank and an emergency clothes closet. These are high needs for children living in poverty, whose families may not even be able to afford the soap and quarters for laundry. Many of these students have little hope of going to college. Nearly 74% will probably never get the chance to attend school past 12th grade.

A few weeks ago, Operation Warm partner volunteers provided students at the school with another necessity: warm, brand new coats. The volunteers and the donors who made this possible reinforced the message that people care, by delivering the warmth, hope and confidence that comes along with brand new coats.

Yes, the coats keep kids warm, there is no doubt about that, but they do so much more—instilling hope, for example. Hope can be hard for a child when the ordinary things, such as having a coat to keep you warm can’t be taken for granted.

The children were joyful when they got their coats, and it was hard for those giving out the coats to do so with dry eyes. “You’ve never wanted to smile and laugh and cry so much at the same time,” one said.

But, even the most stalwart adult wouldn’t be able to keep their cool when a brand new Operation Warm coat inspired one student to tell a volunteer, “I already know what I want to do with my coat. I’m going to college!”

And just like that, a small donation made by an Operation Warm supporter can change a child’s life for the better.

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