New coats warm students in many ways

Every student in West Broad Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio, will receive a new winter coat on Dec. 15, thanks to a local nonprofit.

All of the students in the selected school qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program, and their needs were  matched with Operation Warm, a Chadds Ford-based  providing the coats and a corporate sponsor Hollister California, a clothing retailer.

Operation Warm is the heart and brainchild of Pennsbury Township resident Dick Sanford. Sanford saw children at a bus stop shivering from lack of proper clothing. He set to right the situation by buying all of the coats at a clothing store in Kennett Square, Sheldon’s Department Store. He worked with local churches to see the coats got to children who needed them. He then set about finding the best way to get the most warmth to as many children as possible.

The formula turned out to be to manufacture the coats, to organize group and corporate fundraising, and to distribute the coats through local organizations. Manufacturing was cheaper than collecting, sorting and cleaning used coats.

Operation Warm, founded as a nonprofit in 2002, has nationwide reach from a single office in Chadds Ford. It has 15 employees, and 97 cents out of every dollar goes to purchase coats. For $20, a child can have a new coat. Renee Koerner of Operation Warm explained that more than children's bodies are warmed by the coats. The children's self-esteem is increased when they get to choose a coat among many styles and colors.

The local distribution of coats is often handled by churches and schools who know where the need is. Two members of Neighbors in Business, Rodger Caramanica and Bob Craig, said they have teachers in their families who have bought coats, gloves and scarves for students in need. Craig told the story of a student who appeared in school without a coat. When asked where his coat was, the child explained to the teacher it was his brother's turn to wear the coat.

Members of Neighbors in Business meet weekly at Pescatores Restaurant to network and grow their businesses. Quarterly, they meet to support a charitable effort. Neighbors in Business has supported Operation Warm for three years.

Operation Warm distributes over 300,000 coats per year nationwide. The twenty six members of Neighbors in Business presented a check for $740, which will buy 37 coats.

Holilister California will donate a coat for every coat purchased before December 13

Holilister California will donate a coat for every coat purchased before December 13

Operation Warm works with corporate partners and community organizations, such as fire companies and the Rotary. In addition, traditional fundraising,  “cause marketing” has become another way for Operation Warm to fulfill its mission. The agreement between Operation Warm and Hollister California through December 13 is that for every coat purchased, a coat is given away. A 10K running event is planned for Oct. 23, 2016, at Winterthur to raise funds.

For more information on Operation Warm, visit http://www.operationwarm.org. To make a donation online, go to https://donate.operationwarm.org/page/contribute.

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About Emily Myers

Emily Myers has lived and worked in Chadds Ford for over thirty years.  She founded the parent company of Chadds Ford Live, Decision Design Research, Inc., in 1982.  ChaddsFordLive.com represents the confluence of Myers' long time, deep involvement in technology and community. Myers was a founding member of the Chadds Ford Business Association and currently serves on its board of directors.  Her hobbies include bridge, golf, photography and Tai Chi. She lives with her husband, Jim Lebedda, in Chadds Ford Township.

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