Every student at Richey Elementary School on Thursday received a brand new winter coat as part of Operation Warm Newport. Grade after grade filed into the gym all morning long, where chaperones guided students to tables piled high with puffy coats, and kids enjoyed ‘shopping’ for their favorite.
Jackets of all sizes and colors were available, and teachers and volunteers made sure the coats kids selected would be big enough to last at least through this winter.
In fact, all 1,100 elementary school children in Newport will receive free coats for winter, and the remaining 600 coats will be distributed at other schools next week. Nearly three quarters of students in Newport are at or below the poverty line.
“I really like my coat, and I am really happy to get a new one,” said 4th grader John Thomas Gearhart.
The fundraising effort that has warmed hearts and bodies was a collaboration between The Delaware KIDS Fund — a nonprofit established by Newport-based real estate development company Harvey Hanna — and Operation Warm, which works with manufacturers to create their own line of winter coats and distributes them to needy children in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Fourth grader Emily Campbell also appreciated that Christmas came early to Richey Elementary. “I was really excited when I learned I would be getting a new coat,” she said. Emily picked a coat that would match her best friend Lehla’s.
Harvey Hanna and the Delaware KIDS Fund raised the $22,000 for Operation Warm Newport at the first ever “Camping Out for Coats” earlier this month. The two-night campout was a resounding success, as campers were able to raise enough money to meet their goal of providing a warm winter coat to every child in Newport.
“It has been really wonderful to see kids enter the gym this morning quite curious about getting a new coat and see them leave with big smiles on their faces and beaming with pride over their new winter coats,” said Harvey Hanna’s Ryan Kennedy. “This is our way of helping instill a bit of confidence and bringing happiness to these kids over the holidays.”