Operation Warm supplies coats for kids

Published 8:35 am Wednesday, October 21, 2009

FRANKLIN—Members of the Franklin Rotary Club and the Franklin Lions Club joined forces for the first time to help give children in need winter coats.

A total of 36 coats were donated to Operation Warm, a charity started by a Rotary Club member in Pennsylvania 11 years ago, for students at S.P. Morton Elementary School in Franklin. The kids received the coats on Tuesday.

“Operation Warm is such a wonderful organization,” said Stacy Scott, the Franklin Rotary Club member who chaired the local project. “Rotary was happy to get on board and work on getting the coats to the children. This year the initiative was really successful. We’re just excited to be part of it and to have the children get the coats this week.”

Jeff Jacobs, president of the Franklin Lions Club, echoed that sentiment.

“We’ve been trying to do a joint project with Rotary for a couple of years,” Jacobs said. “They did most of the work, identified the project, found and purchased the coats and brought them here.”

Jacobs added that the Franklin Lions Club “decided it would be a good way to help out with the area. We felt it was a good project to do, and was a good first joint project. We hope to continue that and identify other needs for the community. We want to help out all we can.”

S.P. Morton Principal Donald Spengeman was grateful for both organizations’ help.

“I think it is wonderful for the Rotary Club and the Lions Club to take care of our kids like this,” Spengeman said. “There is a need in Franklin, and we’re lucky we have clubs like these that come when we have the need.”

Although this is the first year Operation Warm has been done in Franklin, Scott said it would not be the last.

“I am sure with the success of this project we will continue and hopefully even expand the project to other children who need coats next year,” Scott said.

According to the Operation Warm Web site, the charity was started in Longwood, Pa., by Dick Sanford in 1998.

Sanford read a story in his local newspaper that said local children were freezing while waiting for their school bus because they had no winter coats.

With his own money, Sanford went to a local department store and bought 58 coats. With the help of the Longwood Rotary Club, they distributed the coats to local children who did not have them.

The Web site said that since 1998, Operation Warm has provided more than 500,000 new coats to children in over 26 states across the country. It is now one of the largest non-profits in the country distributing new coats.

Operation Warm partners with a wide range of organizations to find and support children in schools, churches and other social service organizations, whose families cannot afford winter coats.