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Operation Warm has been up and running for over 22 years. Photo: Facebook-Operation Warm
Operation Warm has been up and running for over 22 years. Photo: Facebook-Operation Warm

Operation Warm’s goal of donating winter coats hits home a year since COVID-19

The organization has donated over 4 million coats since its founding.

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While many parents worry about paying for uniforms, school supplies, and groceries to get back into the swing of things pre-COVID-19, Operation Warm, a nonprofit organization, will be distributing 600,000 coats for under-privileged children across the U.S. and Canada

Operation Warm delivers brand-new, high-quality coats and shoes for children in need through its events and distribution centers.

According to the organization’s website, it aims to support children and families in need. For example, where 40% or more of their students’ families are at or below 150% of the federally prescribed poverty level, or human service organizations like homeless shelters, community libraries, or foster care agencies.

Their tagline, “More than one coat” are words of wisdom they’ve followed since the founding of the operation more than 22 years ago. The organization was founded by Dick Sanford, who wanted to donate coats to disadvantaged children.

Operation Warm is hoping to bring ease to the lives of children and their families by worrying less about whether or not they can afford a winter coat.

“Even though it is incredibly hot today, we all know that it will get cold and we’re preparing for that,” Grace Sica, the executive director at Operation Warm told CBS Philly.

A winter coat is what children need for those early, chilly mornings waiting for the bus or walking to school. The organization is more than prepared to deliver.

Children get to choose the coat they like, try it on, and staff from Operation Warm write the students' names inside of the coat.

The nonprofit organization is based in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, however, it focuses on delivering coats to children all over the country, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in unemployment.

“In a normal year, we see requests for 150,000 coats,” Sica said. “And last year it was about 450,000, so just an enormous increase and we have already started to see that again.”

This year, Operation Warm also launched its second initiative called Warm Soles, a mission to distribute thousands of shoes and sneakers to children in need all over the country.

Warm Soles offers shoes to children in second and third grade. So far, it has gifted over 30,000 shoes.

The coats are brand new and are often donated from large corporations such as Nordstrom’s, Abercrombie and Fitch, and the 76ers.

“It’s not a hand-me-down coat,” David Reyes of Operation Warm said to CBS Philly. “It’s not a used coat. It’s a brand new coat and that means a lot to a child.”

In 2018, Ben Simmons and the 76ers, along with Operation Warm, visited William Cramp Elementary School in Philadelphia and distributed winter coats for children. 

So far, the organization has donated over 4 million coats to children, and they don't plan on stopping anytime soon.

The next coat drive will begin next week.

For more information on Operation Warm, please visit its website.

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