Overcoming Barriers to Develop Confident, Successful Students

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The Philadelphia Badlands is not a place most of us would want to be. It is home to out-in-the-open drug markets, gang activity and a high rate of violence. It is also home to families with young children.

The children grow up in tightly-packed row homes and most must walk to school past abandoned warehouses and other hazards. One hundred percent of the students attending the local William Cramp Elementary School qualify for free or reduced lunches, which means that every student faces the daily struggle of living in need.

“What these children have to deal with every day would make even the strongest person collapse,” says Deander Logan principal of Cramp, a Pre-K to 5th grade school in the neighborhood. “Life can be difficult for these children, for these families, but they are so strong.”

“We have extraordinary students here who are kind, thoughtful, compassionate and very bright. They are children who are so active and really deserve the best.”

Caring Adults Build Confidence in Kids

One thing that surely makes the students of the Cramp school strong is the commitment of their principal to the students and their families.

Principal Logan’s genuine care and enthusiasm for her students surely makes a difference in these children’s lives. She firmly believes that showing these children that people really care about them will build their confidence and lead to a lifetime of success.

“The greatest thing about our school starts with the students, and it continues through the parents, and it is extended through the staff and community partnerships,” she says “We have extraordinary students here who are kind, thoughtful, compassionate and very bright. They are children who are so active and really deserve the best.”

Supporting Warmth, Confidence and Hope

In 2018, Operation Warm and its partners gave these students the warm, brand new coats they needed, to support Principal Logan’s goals for confident students who have the means to get to school. “The children love the coats—so stylish, so fashionable and in a style that really appeals to the children and can give them confidence that they look nice.”

“To me warm coats equal warm hearts. The coats are to me a visible reminder to all of the children that there is someone who cares about them enough to give them a nice, beautiful, warm coat that they like.  And I think even at an unconscious level, coats mean security. Coats keep you warm. There are so much symbolism involved in a winter coat.”

“During the winter time, when it is snowy, icy and cold, we would actually have children tell us, ‘Well, I didn’t have a coat, so I couldn’t come. It was too cold.’ And I also heard this from children: They had a coat but a younger sibling didn’t, so they gave the coat to a brother or sister, so that child wouldn’t be cold. You wouldn’t necessarily consider having a coat to be a factor in terms of attendance, but for us, it is important. For us, we feel that it is one of the things to have in place that will increase the probability the child will come to school.”

In addition to the gift of coats, Principal Logan appreciated the interaction that staff and volunteers had with her students, reinforcing the fact that there are people who care. “The children were saying how nice the people were, and one child said, ‘Oh I have a new friend who took care of me and made sure I had a nice coat.’”

“We thank them all [supporters] for giving up their time and money,” says Principal Logan, “and for doing and demonstrating at such a tangible level that they care about children, and they care about the needs of children, and they want to do all that they can to make a difference in a child’s life.”

“We are just so grateful for everything that Operation Warm did for us and for our children. It was just incredible,” she says. “Having a coat is going to positively impact their lives. It is a win, win, win.”

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