Together We Made Wishes Come True Across the United States
This winter, hundreds of schools and organizations across the United States reached out to Operation Warm in the hopes of making wishes come true for the children, families and communities they serve. Through the generous support and commitment of heroes like you, more than 40,000 wishes for warm, brand new coats for children in need have come true.
Making Wishes Come True Starts with an Organized List
Through a simple form on the Operation Warm website, organizations in need of brand new winter coats were able to sign up to be placed on the wish list.
The wish list allows community based organizations – churches, schools, educational programs, government agencies, non-profits, homeless shelters, etc. to communicate with us directly about the needs of the populations they serve. The dedicated staff at Operation Warm then works to pair donor and grant funding to specific requests with the goal of fulfillment. Any organization serving children can sign up for the wish list via our website. We typically start accepting ‘wishes’ in August.
Setting a Goal to Give as Many Brand New Coats as Possible
“Our goal every season is to fulfill as many wishes as possible!” says Allison Price, Associate Director of Development and Strategy at Operation Warm. “There’s a dedicated team working behind the scenes here at Operation Warm to do outreach, get orders processed and manage the gift stewardship process. While I am lucky enough to get to do the majority of our work with the wish list, it truly takes a whole team to make everything happen in such a short period of time.”
“We read everything that people submit as part of their ‘wish’ request – so stories of need and photographs are an important part of the review process,” she says. “We are always looking to the wish list to see if there is a connection between the requests we receive and the desired impact of our funders. When that happens, it’s magical!”
“I am lucky in that I get to make most of the phone calls letting recipients know that they have been selected to receive coats,” Allison says. “People are so excited and appreciative, and that makes me proud of all of the work that we do here at Operation Warm. I also love receiving all of the thank you cards, drawings, letters and photographs from our wish list beneficiaries.”
How We Used the Wish List to Make a Big Impact, Together
“The wish list is so important because it serves as a point of inspiration for funders, and helps us accurately convey the need for brand new winter coats all across North America,” Allison says. “For example, one funder was so impacted by the need this year that she decided to fulfill every school wish list received for the five boroughs of New York City! We were able to work very quickly to get 5,000 coats to these children prior to leaving for their December holiday breaks. Without the wish list, this very generous gift would never have happened.”
“This past winter, we received support from individual donors, community based service groups (such as Elks and Rotary Clubs), local and national businesses in various communities, and foundation grant funding,” she says. “Many were repeat funders who truly believe in the Operation Warm mission. We are truly grateful for their continuing support; without our funders, none of this would be possible.”
Operation Warm supporters really came together to grant the wishes of so many of these deserving organizations that work within communities large and small. Still, as we learned from this past winter with the wish list program, there are many more children that had to go without because there was more need than gifts available.
The Surprising Need for Brand New Coats Across the United States
Allison said that the focus on the Wish List allowed Operation Warm and our supporters to find some surprising opportunities to fulfill our organization’s mission and reach farther into areas not often served. Towns afflicted with rural poverty or areas where many might assume that winter coats aren’t necessary are often forgotten.
But, even states that are thought of as “warm,” can be cold for children at night or in the winter. We received requests and gave brand new coats to children in Los Angeles, CA; Mora, NM; Tucson, AZ; Lithonia, GA; Santa Rosa Beach, FL; and Houston, TX.
“I think that I am always surprised by just how much need there is,” Allison says. “For example, this past year 464 organizations requested a total of 128,156 coats. We were thrilled to be able to secure funding to fulfill about a third of the wish list requests we received, but we’re always left wanting to do more.”
This winter, hundreds of schools and organizations across the United States reached out to Operation Warm in the hopes of making wishes come true for the children, families and communities they serve. Through the generous support and commitment of heroes like you, nearly 50,000 wishes for warm, brand new coats for children in need have come true.
You can give a gift of warmth, confidence and hope to children in need through the gift of brand new coats.
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