Rotary Clubs Hit Biggest Success in 20 Years


Together we empower! Demonstrating they are People of Action, Rotary Clubs banded together in 2018-2019 to create the biggest impact in twenty years of partnership with Operation Warm. Doing what they do best, Rotary clubs both large and small combined forces to empower, inspire, serve and provide for children and communities across the United States.

Rotary Clubs are all about community service, which is why the birth of Operation Warm, a nonprofit that gives warm, brand new coats to children in need, began as a Rotary Club project. In 1998, the very first coats were gifted by the Longwood Rotary Club of Kennett Square PA in District 7450.

Big Numbers for Little Ones

Statistics can give a good idea of the success of a community service activity, and those illustrating the partnership between Rotary Clubs and Operation Warm certainly show phenomenal success. But behind the very impressive numbers we are about to share are the individual children who received a great gift from Rotarians: the warmth of a brand new well-made coat, and the self-esteem, hope and opportunity that came with it. There was also joy as the children, parents, teachers and administrators realized that Rotarians really care about them and their communities.

Rotary Club Success

During the 2018-2019 season:

  • Over 30,000 children were served this winter through Rotary Clubs
  • 149 clubs in 52 Districts participated this year, many with support from The Rotary Foundation with a District Grant
  • Since the Rotary Clubs-Operation Warm Partnership began, 250 clubs have provided over 215,000 children each with the warmth and joy of a brand new coat.

Showcasing the Rotary Club of Woodinville

In 2003, the Rotary Club of Woodinville, WA (District 5030) became the first club outside of District 7450 to build Operation Warm into its annual community service plan. Since then, they have served 10,000 children through their Operation Warm project!

Showcasing the Rotary Club of Madison

This past season, the Rotary Club of Madison, AL (District 6860) partnered with the James Clemens Theatre to gift coats to the children in their local community. Amy Patel, a representative of the theatre, relates their experience of having a community come together to serve, inspire and empower children.

Their reactions were priceless. We delivered to schools and met with students individually, so we met them one at a time. One little girl said, “This is so nice! I should have thought to bring something for YOU!” When she opened her coat, she said, “This is perfect. I just lost my coat and needed a new one.” 

When we met with one little boy, I explained that we were visiting students to kick off the holiday season by GIVING gifts, and we had asked teachers at his school to tell us who they felt deserved a special gift. I pointed to him, and he LIT UP and said, “ME??” I choked back tears when I handed him the bag!

Together we empowerAnother little boy was very quiet, but walked around and gave every single one of us a hug. All 12 of us. 

Another little girl HOPPED back to class with her bag! Her counselor told her she was chosen because she exhibited the school’s monthly character trait, Thankfulness. When she went through her bag in class, her friends said, “You absolutely deserve this. You are a very thankful person.” 

My high school theatre students helped deliver and were genuinely moved by the smiles and 

thanks. As we loaded up to go back to school, one student said, “That was humbling.” Another said, “That’s the best thing I’ve done all year.”

High school students helped pack the gift bags and brought items to put in them. Several organizations and sports within the school donated items (hats, shirts, bracelets, etc.). When the children received their bags, they were so excited to get shirts and hats for their future high school. It reminded me that we are not only keeping them warm; we are giving them confidence, connecting with them early, and encouraging them in school.

What All Interested Rotarians Should Know

The 2019-2020 Rotary year promises to be a record-breaking year for Rotary Clubs and Operation Warm Coats for Kids projects. The project is flexible and can suit the needs, interests and fundraising of each local Rotary Club.

Operation Warm will be at 12 Multi-District PETS over the next month. If you are interested in being part of a full-supported partnership with Operation Warm, please come see us at PETS or contact Rich Lalley ( to learn more.

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