One Night Without Warmth Kicks Off in Delaware
For Immediate Release
Operation Warm’s One Night Without Warmth
to highlight struggles of childhood poverty
University of Delaware students and elected officials look to draw attention to the need by going
‘coatless for kids’
Newark, DE. – On Feb 22nd Operation Warm will kick off its first national awareness campaign, One Night Without Warmth, on the campus of University of Delaware. The national awareness event’s theme is to draw attention to the large numbers of children living in poverty in the United States and to share Operation Warm’s work to alleviate some effects of childhood poverty by providing new, winter coats to children in need. Operation Warm hopes that this will be the first of many events across the country in future years.
The Delaware event will highlight Operation Warm’s ambitious goal to provide every elementary school child living in poverty in the state with a new winter coat, 17,500 children in total. One Night Without Warmth will kick off at the University of Delaware with Delaware’s Lieutenant Governor Matthew Denn, and Operation Warm founder, Dick Sanford speaking at the event. The University of Delaware event will include students going without a coat for the event to know what it is like to not own a winter coat.
Originally launched to address a local problem with underserved children in a Philadelphia suburb, Operation Warm has grown nationally to address the serious need throughout the U.S. for a basic essential; a warm winter coat. Since its inception in 1998, OW has distributed coats in 33 states and in the end of February will give out their millionth new coat to a child in need.
Nationally, 22% of American children or more than one in five are living in poverty. In Wilmington, not far from the University of Delaware, 30% of children are living in poverty – almost one in three.
“We give coats to kids who need them most,” says Paul Daigle, Coordinator of Operation Warm’s Delaware Challenge an initiative that specifically addresses the level of need state-wide. This challenges sets out to engage college and high schools students to support Operation Warm as they raise awareness and funds to provide a coat to each of the 17,500 children living in poverty in the state of Delaware.
“With the state of the economy, parents are struggling,” says Daigle. “Oftentimes when the choice is food, shelter or clothing, most parents are going to feed and shelter their children first; clothing is not a top priority but it’s still a huge necessity especially in freezing temperatures during the winter that can prohibit children from attending school.”
“Many children we serve have never had a new winter coat,” continues Daigle. “Having something new is vital to a child’s self-esteem; a new coat tells a child he or she is valuable. We manufacture our coats that would retail at over $40, so it’s a huge contribution to a family in need who can spend the money on groceries or rent instead.”
The ONWW event on The University of Delaware’s event is organized in partnership with the campus Alpha Phi Omega chapter and Circle K student organization. “’Go coatless for kids’ is how we are pitching it to students here,” says Katie Baxa, Philanthropy Chair of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity. “We want students to experience the cold without a coat as we consider childhood poverty across the country!”
To help raise more funds so more children can be served, Daigle is reaching out to service clubs and organizations in Delaware high schools and colleges. “If we get a club connected to us in every public and private high school in the state – our hope is that we will have advocates to not only help distribute the coats, but to help fundraise for more coats. The high school groups not only get a great service experience, but they get to help kids in their own school district.”
About Operation Warm Inc.
Operation Warm Inc. is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit providers of new winter coats to children in need. Our vision is that every child wearing a new winter coat is healthy, able to attend school regularly and develop a strong self-esteem. Operation Warm has distributed coats in 39 states. Along with Coats for Kids Foundation (Combined Federal Campaign #52316), a service of Operation Warm, Inc. we will serve our MILLIONTH child in February 2012 – a momentous milestone. For more information about Operation Warm visit www.operationwarm.org.