The Rotary Club of College Park Maryland Customizes Their Coat Project
The Rotary Club of College Park Maryland plays favorites, but in a good way. Their service projects focus on supporting the most vulnerable in their community, children and seniors. They do this through customized projects, including an annual project that partners with Operation Warm.
“In addition to supporting Operation Warm with new coats for kids, we raise money to support about ten other nonprofits in the area,” says Ken Montville. “They are local causes for sure, and then projects are evenly split between children’s causes and senior’s causes, so we are on both ends of the spectrum.”
About the Rotary Club of College Park Maryland
The thirty members of the Rotary Club of College Park Maryland come mostly from the academic field, a natural fit for a club that meets at the edge of the University of Maryland. They meet on Wednesday nights, where they not only enjoy each other’s company but also dinner.
“We do have a few other people, who are in other professions,” Montville says. “We have a real estate developer, a couple of realtors in the club, and a few other professions, but basically it is university based.”
Creating a Customized Coats for Kids Project
Montville learned about Operation Warm at a Rotary conference. “I had a little extra time, so I stopped by and talked to the guy from Operation Warm. He told me about the program and how easy it is to do, so I thought, ‘Hmm, this could be real nice.’ I took it back to the club, and everyone got behind it.”
“It’s a very defined project,” he says. “How can you say ‘no’ to kids, right? It goes to a really deserving population, and it’s not hard to do. We don’t have to go out and buy the coats or store the coats, because Operation Warm does all of that for us.”
Montville says he and his club also appreciated the ease and flexibility in the Rotary Coats for Kids project. “I put a lot of my enthusiasm behind it. We’re not a club that does a lot of hands on stuff. This was a project did not require a ton of hands on stuff, but we did have the option of that one day of giving away the coats. That would be a hands-on event for a day, and it would also give publicity to the club.”
Solving an Obstacle to Service in Schools
The Rotary Club of College Park Maryland also customizes the Operation Warm project by bringing in other nonprofit organizations. In addition to creating great partnerships, it also solves a problem faced by other Rotary clubs—how to provide service to school districts that are normally shut to outside groups.
“Partnering with an organization that is already established with the school can eliminate the hassle of going into a school, and also solve the problem of a distribution space if the school doesn’t have one,” Montville says.”
“In our area, the Title 1 schools are very hard to get into,” he says. “It is a major challenge in our school district. The schools are shut out to outside groups, so last year we partnered with the Salvation Army of Prince George’s County. This year we are partnering with an organization called Joe’s Movement Emporium, which provides a before and after school program, performing art program, and a fine arts program. Plus, they have a big auditorium, so it is easy to do a coat-giving event.” He adds that it is the best part of the project!
“What we do is to try to raise as much money as we can, and then we order the coats, and gift them to the kids,” he says. “It is a great idea and great fun.”
Interested in starting an Operation Warm community service project with your club?