It’s March 5th today. And, for many of us, it’s still cold outside. Snowing, in fact. Which makes it a perfect time to highlight a wonderful charitable organization called Operation Warm (www.operationwarm.org) — a non-profit that has provided brand-new coats to nearly 2 million children in poverty since 2002.
We just spoke with Operation Warm’s lovely and dynamic Program Director, Renee Koerner. Renee is only 26 years old (which means she was born in or around…oh my goodness…1989?!) and she is incredibly articulate and passionate. We are proud to call her a HEUCY Gal and even prouder of her “boss” and the program’s founder, philanthropist and entrepreneur Richard Stanford, for giving Renee the autonomy and support she needs to help the organization grow. Many of us didn’t have this type of “supervisor” when we were toiling in the trenches after college.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Some background for you.
In 2012, Renee joined Operation Warm and worked with a Washington, D.C. Firefighter to bring the entire International Association of Fire Fighters on board, to raise money across the U.S. for new coats for kids in poverty. Firefighters – in addition to being kind-hearted, strong, capable, selfless and, in many cases, very cute (we’ve all seen “Backdraft”…which may have been released before Renee’s birthday, but I digress) – see a lot of things within their communities that other people don’t. Such as, freezing kids coming into the firehouse to keep warm. This one firefighter had organized a lot of coat drives and ended up discarding about half of the coats received because they weren’t wearable. Which led to the idea to fundraise for new coats, on a national level.
One more reason why we love this organization? Renee and Sanford have been the driving force behind moving Operation Warm’s production back to the United States. They provided 300,000 coats to impoverished children in the U.S. last year, and 60,000 of these were made in the USA. Renee hopes to increase this number every year.
And Renee is launching another brilliant initiative this year: Buy Warm, Give Warm. If you buy an Operation Warm coat for a child in your life, then a new coat will be donated to a child in need. Renee hopes to produce womens’ coats at some point, which we think is fabulous. We’d love to see an Operation Warm coat on top of a HEUCY dress or jumpsuit. I loathe being cold, but would be happy to put on a coat if I knew it was helping people who can’t afford to buy their own.
Click here if you’d like to get involved in Operation Warm’s mission.
And thank you, Renee, for inspiring us to give.
The HEUCY Team