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Jim Causley Buick

Warming up in a new coat


Four local Rotary Clubs are making sure area children are protected from winter's cold with new outer wear.


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Grosse Pointe Rotary Vice President Paul Rentenbach, left, took time to chat with fellow Rotarian Ted Everingham and his wife, Marcia.

November 29, 2012
Old Man Winter will be blowing into town soon accompanied by Jack Frost, sleet, snow and cold temperatures. People know enough to put on winter coats when temperatures dip.

Yet, there is a segment of the population unable to stay warm due to the lack of winter clothing. It's disturbing to realize there are children nearby who don't have coats in which to bundle up and keep warm and no means to get a coat.

"People make assumptions they (needy children) have (a coat) or can get one some other way," said Rochelle Riley, honorary chairwoman of Operation Warm.

That is not the case.

Four Rotary clubs are working to get warm overcoats to those most in need. They are planning to raise enough money through March to purchase 12,000 new coats for local children in their latest service project — Operation Warm.

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Grosse Pointe Rotary, Grosse Pointe Sunrise Rotary, Detroit AM Rotary and Detroit Rotary want the needy children through The Children's Center of Detroit, Crossroads of Michigan, Matrix Human Services, For the Seventh Generation and the National School Lunch Program in Grosse Pointe, Harper Woods and St. Clair Shores wearing winter wear this year.

"We wanted to do a project and get multiple clubs involved," said Christian Kreipke, of Grosse Pointe Park and a member of the Detroit A.M. Rotary. "This is a good effort to pool resources of those with similar minds to accomplish a fairly large project."

Riley added the Rotary clubs are not reinventing the wheel, but rather joining together on one project.

When children are under dressed, they might also be cold and hungry making it difficult for them to learn, she said.

"A winter coat is an essential item in Michigan winters," said Michael Carmody, assistant governor Area 1 of Rotary District 6400 and member of Grosse Pointe Rotary. "A coat provides more than just warmth it allows a child to attend school, where they not only receive an education, they also receive meals. A new coat provides the added benefit of increasing self-esteem — who doesn't like getting new things?'

Those enrolled in the National School Lunch Program is one of the ways children in need are identified.

Carmody learned about Operation Warm two years ago.

He said he received a shipment of awards for an upcoming Rotary banquet and found a flier inside the box explaining the program in Longwood, Pa., established in 1998 there.

Operation Warm is a non-profit charitable organization having distributed more than a million new winter coats in just over 10 years. The Rotary Club acquires coats at wholesale, spending less than $20 per coat.

It stuck with Carmody. The Rotary Club held onto the idea for a year, until April when the project's logistics got under way.

This not the first time local Rotary clubs have joined forces. Under the guidance of Grosse Pointe Rotary, Detroit and Windsor are clubs undertook the Three Million Pound Challenge, collecting a million pounds each of clothing, books and food in a year. All donated items were donated to local charities, filling food pantries, human service agencies and libraries.

For more information or to donate to Operation Warm visit snugglerotary.org.

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