Orange Rotary Club gives coats to 4,000 local students (video)
The Orange Rotary Club is spearing the warmth.
And by next week that means they will have given more than 4,000 coats to students and other folks in Bridgeport, West Haven and New Haven.
A coat program, spearheaded by Orange Rotarian Baxter Walsh, last year delivered a total of 120 winter coats to two Bridgeport schools, the Bridgeport Rescue Mission and two shelters in New Haven.
This year, the project was expanded through the generosity of many, including Operation Warm, a non-profit organization based in Chadds Ford, Pa., a distributor of winter jackets. Through the program, jackets are sold at cost to nonprofit organizations. Walsh learned of and contacted the program.
In October, Walsh asked the Bridgeport School District to identify students in need of winter coats. The district reported a need for 2,231 coats, exceeding what the Orange and Bridgeport Rotary organizations could afford.
But in December, Walsh was notified by Operation Warm that a benefactor had purchased a large number of jackets and that the club could buy” the jackets for the cost of warehousing (less than a $1 each.)
Rotarians immediately stepped in to make the necessary arrangements. United Way of Greater Bridgeport donated $1,000 and helped put everything together.
A tractor-trailer operator heading to Pennsylvania with a delivery offered to pick the coats up and bring them to Connecticut. Orange Realtor Mike Richetelli located warehouse space to store the coats, at Star Distributors. Ivy League Landscape owner Phil Grande provided the machinery to haul and store the jackets.
Many Rotarians from Orange and Bridgeport also spent the time to sort and pack all the coats.
On Thursday, more than 1,000 coats were delivered to Bridgeport students.
Orange Rotary President Diane Eger said the Rotarians were delighted to help with the coats.
“You hear about people in need and it’s rewarding to see so many volunteers step up to help. Rotary is all about service to others,” she said.
More than 250 coats were delivered to Cesar A. Batalla Elementary School in the Park City.
School Principal Hector Sanchez said he was grateful for the assistance.
“It’s an exciting time for us. We are in one of the poorest parts of Bridgeport. It is not unusual to see students wearing a light jacket in the winter,” Sanchez said.
With each coat, the Rotarians left a suggestion for the children: Tucked in the pocket of each jacket is a note asking the recipient to show their thanks by doing a good deed for someone else.
“The costs are a God send,” Sanchez said.
Next week the balance of the coats will go to Greater New Haven schools and shelters and Eger said when done they will have distributed about 4,600 coats.