Supporter Spotlight: Kaitlyn’s Coats for Kids


Chicago sees a lot of snowstorms, but last fall, one that came in the beginning of October surprised even the natives. “If it was already snowing in the fall, how cold was it going to be in December, January and February?” says Shivani Sweeney, an Operation Warm supporter, located in Chicago. It is her daughter, Kaitlyn, who is the focus of our first supporter spotlight.

Why Does a School District Close When it Snows?

Sweeney wondered why the district always closed the schools during snow, even light snow. “Why does this happen,” she asked, “When parents can drive their kids to school if they buses are not available.”

Not one to let a question alone, she did some digging and found out that there were many kids in her school district who not only lacked the opportunity to be driven to school, but also lacked the basic resources to wait for the bus when the weather turns cold. “We found out that kids in our own school district have to wait in the cold at the bus stop, and a lot of kids don’t have coats,” she says. “They would have to stand there when it is 20 below.”

Even a Young Girl Can Make a Difference

Sweeney shared this with her family one night, including seven-year-old Kaitlyn, who was about to turn eight. “Maybe we can use the money we planned to spend on my party to buy coats for kids.” Kaitlyn told her mom.

“You know, what kid does that?” her proud mom says. “She has all the reason in the world to be selfish, but she did the most selfless thing.”

They got to work looking for the best option to get coats for kids when they came across the Operation Warm website. “We looked at all the videos and they really told the story,” Sweeney says. “That was when we knew we could raise money in lieu of birthday presents and make a bigger impact. We knew we could do something close to home.”

Community Support

Kaitlyn rallied her friends and even the local Rotary club to pass her goal funding 30 brand new coats for children in her school district, located in Grayslake, IL.

Recognizing the need and then doing something about it at such a young age makes this little girl one of a favorite supporter spotlight. We always say that children can change the world, and Kaitlyn Sweeney is a great example.

“Hopefully, other kids will start doing this too,” she says.

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