Essential Things to Do When Planning Your Coat Giving Event


At Operation Warm, we are committed to making sure that your coat giving event is joyful, impactful and easy. Giving brand new coats to children is one of the most amazing experiences you can have.

Here are the essential things to do when planning your coat giving event. They will ensure that everything runs smoothly. Operation Warm offers a free, customized Partner Portal for extra support to all of Operation Warm’s community partners. There are lots of tools on the Partner Portal that make Coat Giving events really easy.

Match Your Organization to the Need

The first step in planning your coat event is to identify the children most in need of help in your community. Choose recipients who are local, to make it easy for you and your volunteers.

“We often use the Free/Reduced Lunch Program information as a guide to identify elementary school children who are in need of coats,” says Heather Connolly, Vice President, Development and Programs at Operation Warm. “It’s also easy to reach out to organizations that serve children in need include Head Start, Boys & Girls Clubs and PALs.”

Create Children’s Activities

planning your coat giving eventMake it extra fun for the children at your event by providing a few extra activities. Play energetic music to keep everyone’s toes tapping. Offer simple games like hopscotch or ring toss, and even educational games like word searches.

Invite a children’s balloon artist or puppeteer, or create a make-believe dress up area with a mirror and props. Activities will contribute to making your coat giving event a memorable experience.

Activities don’t have to cost a lot, and you may find community members are willing to donate goods and services to make sure everyone has a good time.

Plan Volunteer Fun

Don’t forget ways to support and celebrate your volunteers when planning your coat giving event. “Offering water, healthy snacks and small giveaways will be appreciated and help keep volunteers energized,” says Julie D’Esposito, National Volunteer and Event Manager at Operation Warm.

“Volunteers are essential,” she says.  “Make sure that your volunteers feel appreciated and know that they are an important part of your event.”  Building a dedicated volunteer network will ensure your program runs flawlessly year after year.

Gather Essential Supplies

Operation Warm has gifted our brand new coats at many wonderful events.  Some events have been as simple as opening our coat boxes on the floor of a gym. Some have been more elaborate, with tablecloths and decorations. YOU are the most important part of making your coat giving event meaningful!

On the practical side, we have found that having some supplies makes the event run most smoothly.  The site of your coat giving event should be supplied with tables, chairs and trash receptacles. Often, the school or organization can supply these, but it is a good idea to check during the planning stage.

In addition, you might also gather the following essential supplies to bring your coat giving event. We recommend:

  • Pens and Paper – to make signs for the sizes, the activities, and the sponsors
  • Tape – to post your signs
  • Self-stick name tags – so kids and their families know you, and you know them
  • Box cutters-  to open the Operation Warm coat boxes
  • Speakers for music
  • Permanent Markers- to make signs and to write each child’s name in their coat

“Don’t forget the Sharpies,” recommends Laura Wisneski, Associate Director, Community Programs at Operation Warm. “One of the most important parts of your coat giving event will be when you get to write the children’s names in their coats. The children’s smiles are so big when they see their names on their very own coats.”

Interested in providing brand new coats for kids in your community? We would love for you to join us as an Operation Warm Community Partner!

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