Who Gets Coats? Determining Community Need


Since our founding, Operation Warm has distributed nearly 2.5 million brand new coats to children across the United States – and before the end of the 2017-18 winter distribution season, we’ll proudly add hundreds of thousands more to that total.

With each distribution program, we and our partners start with a decision – a tough one – to determine who should receive these new coats. As we deal with the realities and challenges of tremendous need and variable funding and support, we are mission driven to make the best decisions to help as many children and communities as we can each year.

How Those Decisions Are Made

Nearly every day at Operation Warm, we are asked “Who gets coats? or “How can we get coats?” To address this in the most effective, and fair, way we can, we have adopted a guideline for deciding appropriate areas for coat distribution. That decision begins with determining the need in a community.

In making these decisions, we utilize a pair of federal resources, the Reduced/Free Lunch Program and Title 1 Schools designations. Through these criteria, we are able to see the levels of poverty faced in the areas of local schools across the country.

Today, nearly 20% of children in the U.S. live below the federal poverty line, many facing the immense challenges of homelessness. And with rising income inequality, pockets of need can exist in even some of the most fortunate towns and cities. Further, with these federal tools at our disposal, we can determine eligibility that’s timely and beyond anecdotal, and can help us target all areas of need, be they urban, suburban or rural.

Empowering Our Partners

Once we determine that an area faces a significant instance of poverty, we then work with a partner in that community to match a program with an appropriate organization or distribution site and the children in need that they serve.

Our Community Managed Partnerships are run by a variety of business and corporate sponsors, civic clubs, local firefighters, faith organizations and media partners. Individually, they may have a distribution site in mind, such as a local school, shelter or community club. Or, at times, the partners just want to help in their community or region, and look to us to find the best place they can run a distribution program.

Either way, we’re here to empower our partners, guide them with fundraising, assist with promotion and, ultimately, reach local children in need with brand-new coats. Operation Warm has active programs in every state and the District of Columbia, so we’re tested and ready when a local organization with kids in need or a potential new partner calls upon us.

Our Promise

 We don’t like saying “no.” Frankly, it’s heartbreaking for us, and we very seldom do it.

If you’re with a company or group that is looking to become a partner, we’ll help you every step of the way in creating a successful program. If you work on behalf of a local organization with children in need of winter coats, we’ll do everything we possibly can to connect you with one of our partners, if you are unable to fundraise for coats.

Operation Warm wouldn’t exist without your commitment to your communities and children who will determine their future.

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