There I was at a Rotary Institute in Minneapolis and the exhibition hall was big and chilly. So when I saw a display of warm winter coats I hurried right over. That was my first introduction to Operation Warm, a company formed about 10 years ago to provide new winter coats for children in need.
The story is a familiar one – the one where someone recognizes a need and does something about it. Dick Sanford, the founder, realized there were kids in his town with no winter coats although he lived in a pretty upscale area. Astounded by this so he went out and purchased as many winter coats as he could find. Then he took them to his local Rotary Club for distribution around the area. And Operation Warm was born. Now Operation Warm, a 501(c)3, provides new winter coats to a wide range of non-profit organizations in over 33 states. This year they expect to reach the 1 Million Coat mark.
There are several things that make Operation Warm unique: they believe in sustainability so all coats are made from recycled water and soda containers; they believe in education so, working with Villanova University, created a curriculum available to schools to help children learn about water sustainability; they established community service projects at colleges and universities called Warm Coats…Open Minds to teach philanthropy and collect water and soda bottles on college campuses; they believe in helping kids learn about service by a “Pay It Forward” project where coat recipients are asked to do a good deed for someone else. Operation Warm is well-rounded in social endeavor.
Take a look at this short video and then ask yourself, “How Can I Help?” I’ll bet you can find a way.