Students at Slater Elementary School recently received new coats from Operation Warm.

Operation Warm is ready to connect 3,000 Atlanta area children attending Title 1 schools, living in a shelter, or through direct service organizations to high-quality brand-new coats and shoes.

“Operation Warm has established a presence in Atlanta and we are very excited to help more children by partnering with other Atlanta organizations,” said Grace Sica, Executive Director of Operation Warm.

Since 1998, Operation Warm has worked with individuals, community organizations and corporations to provide coats to more than 4,000,000 children and distributed more than 30,000 pairs of shoes across the United States and Canada.

Last fall, 11 partners including Atlanta Assistance League and Southern Company Gas alongside national partners like FedEx, reached 1,000 Atlanta children.

“It opened our eyes that Atlanta could be a powerful opportunity for Operation Warm,” Sica said.  “There’s a lot of need but there’s also a lot of resources.”

Beyond physical warmth and protection, the coats and shoes instill a sense of pride and joy.

“When a child receives a brand-new coat in a color that they love and write their name in it, you can literally see their confidence rise in front of you,” Sica said. “We try to meet their basic needs but our hope is that with this small item we can give them so much more.”

Corporate partners are paired with eligible beneficiary organizations like schools or direct service agencies to give coats, shoes or both to children. Community partners, like libraries or local fire fighters fundraise and gift the items to children in their local area.

“Every community partner we gain, displays to children and families that there are people in their communities that care about them,” said Joscelyn Cooper-Rodriguez, Partnership Development Manager based in Atlanta.

As of early October, there are 1,200 children who have requested a coat through Operation Warm’s Wish List and that number is growing day by day.

“We are hoping to do a lot of coat-giving on MLK Jr. day of service,” Sica said. “We’ll give coats through February.  Once spring rolls around we’ll be full force in shoe giving. We are a year-round connector.”

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Clare S. Richie

Clare S. Richie is a freelance writer and public policy specialist based in Atlanta.