New Coats for Children

Rotary Club of Mariposa, California
Newsletter, Volume 31, Issue 20
 
In 1998, Sanford, a member of the Rotary Club of Longwood, read a local newspaper article about children suffering in cold weather while waiting for their school bus because they lacked winter coats. Angered but also inspired, he decided to take action, launching Operation Warm, which works with manufacturers to provide high-quality unused coats to underprivileged children across the United States.
 
‘I couldn’t understand how something like this could happen. It broke my heart to see kids freeze because they didn’t have warm-enough coats,’ recalls Sanford, the organization’s CEO and chair.

Through funds donated by private and corporate partners, Operation Warm collaborates with manufacturers to develop sizes and styles for boys and girls, then distributes the coats to needy children.  For the organization’s first project in 1998, Sanford purchased 58 coats with his own money from a department store. He and members of his Rotary club distributed the coats to children in a low-income Philadelphia neighborhood. Since then, Operation Warm has provided more than 500,000 new coats to children in 26 states.  Rotary continues to play a crucial role in expanding the fundraising for and distribution of coats, says Sanford. About 60 clubs in the United States have worked directly with Operation Warm, providing more than 25,000 new coats to children.

 ‘Rotary has been phenomenal in our success,’ says Sanford. ‘This project truly represents what Rotary is all about: assisting the disadvantaged in our communities.’ Kim Fremont Fortunato, president of the organization and a member of the Rotary Club of Wilmington, Delaware, says the quality of the coats is a key difference between Operation Warm and many other coat drives.  ‘Most of the children we help have never owned a new coat,’ says Fortunato. ‘We believe it improves their self-esteem. But most important, the coats we distribute will keep kids warm.’

Sanford says the organization has found many willing partners because people can relate to the children’s plight.  ‘All around us there are poor children in this country who need assistance,’ he says. ‘It’s our responsibility to help those who can’t help themselves. Seeing the kids’ smiles and excitement when they put on their new coats is an incredible experience. This is an enormously powerful project.’

 



Related Articles

winter in the city

Shivering with Cold, the Little Girl’s Face Said It All

She arrived at school shivering. Despite the freezing temperatures of a Pennsylvania winter, this six-year-old didn’t have a coat to protect her from the cold. Andrea Fink, the child’s kindergarten teacher…

Read More

Operation Warm Partners with Chicago Housing Authority for its 9th Annual Service Fair

Now in it’s 9th year, the Chicago Housing Authority partnered once again with Operation Warm to provide 10,000 new winter coats to children in need throughout Chicago. Participants also received flu…

Read More

Stay Connected