The Chicago Housing Authority handed out 9,000 new, winter coats to children at the annual Operation Warm Coat Distribution and Resource Fair recently at the UIC Forum.
CHA has been partnering with the national non-profit Operation Warm for 11 years in giving away new winter coats to children living in public housing and to participants of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. In that time, it has distributed 90,000 coats to 24,000 families.
There was also a resource fair with nearly 30 organizations offering services and giveaways, including Wells Fargo, Pepsico, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Comcast and ComEd. Walgreens provided flu shots; Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges also had booths.
“This is one of CHA’s premier events, and we couldn’t be happier to see the smiles on the children’s faces when they put on those new coats,” said CHA CEO Eugene E. Jones Jr., who helped hand out coats. “We are proud to have collaborated with Operation Warm for all of these years, benefitting a great cause. And we thank all of our other partners who came together once again to make this another smashing success.”
Rich Lalley, Operation Warm’s Director of Development, said: “Our partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority leverages a family’s desire for new winter coats for their children to connect them with valuable resources that improve their lives. This event is truly ‘more than a coat!’
This was the first Operation Warm for Silk Lumpkin, who brought her three kids to get new coats.
“It’s a blessing to be able to get coats for the kids to keep them warm and snuggly all winter long,” Lumpkin said.
Her son, Miles Lumpkin, said: “When we come to events like this it’s very heartwarming to come and get some coats because, like my mom said, it’s very cold. The music and stuff is nice and it is very well organized.”
Lonye Scott said she got a new coat because she was growing and needed a new one.
“I was happy (to come to the event) because it’s fun, there’s music and everyone is happy,” she said.
The MC was Chicago Police Department Director of Community Affairs and Chicago broadcasting personality Robin Robinson.
Also this year, Operation Warm is embarking on the “3 Millionth Coat Tour,” a road trip celebrating its partners’ coat-giving events in a dozen cities across the country. If interested in helping Operation Warm provide 3 million coats to kids in need by winter, go to https://www.operationwarm.org/3-millionth-coat-tour/.
“We’re launching our 20th year of serving children and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by highlighting our hardworking partners,” said Dick Sanford, Operation Warm founder and CEO. “We have both seen time and again that giving brand new coats to children not only provides warmth, but also boosts their self-esteem, school attendance and the opportunity to play outside. Chicago Housing Authority’s passion and dedication to our shared mission will help drive us toward reaching our 3 millionth child.”