PATERSON, NJ - The mornings are getting darker, the air cooler, leaving little doubt that winter is on its way. While for most children the chillier weather means bundling up a bit tighter, for too many in underprivileged areas its means deciding whether to brave the elements without a coat or staying home, missing a day of their education.
Thanks to the efforts of Oasis- A Haven for Women and Children, Operation Warm, and a dozen or so volunteers from Benjamin Moore paint, children at Paterson’s School 2 are better prepared to take on Old Man Winter in the coming months.
The birth of Operation Warm, now responsible for giving away more than three million coats across the US, as well as in New Zealand, came simply enough, Kimberly Marandola, the organization’s program service coordinator told TAPinto Paterson. A successful entrepreneur, and committed philanthropist, Richard Sanford launched the effort in 1998 after seeing children huddled together waiting for a bus on a cold Pennsylvania street.
More than 20 years later, the organization continues to provide “more than a coat” as their motto states. The true value, Marandola said, is helping children get to their classroom, despite plummeting temperatures. “The opportunity to go to school with a coat is priceless,” she said.
“Despite the warm weather,” Jennifer Brady, executive director for Oasis said on the day when temps were expected to soar into the 80s, “the children were thrilled to receive their new coats.”
“We are so grateful to Benjamin Moore and Operation Warm for supplying these brand new coats to the children of Public School #2.”
Included among the children was Jayden, 6, who held his brand new jacket tightly and said that not only was he “very happy” because he’d stay warm on his way to and from school, but also because he was able to pick a red jacket, his favorite color, he said.
The fact that the jackets came in such a variety of colors was no coincidence, according to Andrea Magno, Director of Color Marketing and Development for Benjamin Moore, who helped select the “pallet of colors” for the giveaway.
What do kids like, what’s going to last for multiple children in one family, and what do parents like were all taken into consideration when selecting the coats, Magno said, but most importantly is the ability to serve the community, much like the paint company’s independent retailers do every day.
“This is part of who we are,” Magno said adding that they were taking pleasure out of helping the children try on their new coats and add their names to the inside. “It’s woven into the fabric of our company.”
“Seeing the kids so happy,” she concluded, “is reward enough.”
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