Rotary’s Operation Warm Delivers Hundreds of Winter Coats

By Dan Hiner
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Colors were seen spread out on tables lining the walls of St. Joseph the Provider’s hallways in Youngstown.

Reds, blues and other colors stood out against the school’s interior. But 7th grade student Kamora Morales saw her favorite color. Pink.

Morales was one of more than 170 students to receive a new coat from the Rotary Club of Youngstown during Operation Warm on Thursday. Twelve Rotarians partnered with volunteers from Ursuline and Cardinal Mooney high schools to help fit students for new coats and helped them choose a color.

“I think it’s good because some kids might not have coats or can’t afford them,” Morales said. “It’s good that they provide coats for our school.”

It wasn’t the Rotary’s first stop. On Wednesday, members stopped by Harding Elementary in Youngstown, where coats were distributed to 384 students. The rotary worked with the city of Youngstown to help decide which schools would receive coats.

The Youngstown Rotary has been involved with Operation Warm for eight years. The organization raised $24,000 during the fall, leading to 2,400 coats to give away. The statewide effort from rotary clubs and companies raised $51,000.

Youngstown Rotarian PJ Quinn helps Raymon Rose, a 6th grade student at St. Joseph the Provider, try on a coat.

“The importance of these children getting these coats is, number one, if warm,” said Dr. Elizabeth Shobel, chairwoman of Operation Warm. “It promotes confidence, and it’s less sick days. As kids are going in and out of school, they have one more layer to put over maybe their hoodies, their shirts.”

Ursuline senior Greg Morgione is a member of the high school’s Interact Club. The group sent several seniors to help with Operation Warm and have worked on several community service projects since the start of the academic year.

“It’s really eye opening to see different kids who have different needs that you just don’t understand until you’re actually with them, especially today – kids that are less fortunate to have simple things like a winter coat or something,” Morgione said.

Sixth grader Nina Sepulveda was among the 170 students at St. Joseph the Provider to receive a new winter coat.

Cheryl Jablonski, principal at St. Joseph the Provider, said the school has a lot of children that didn’t have coats and live in poverty. The early cold weather gave her and the staff some concern earlier in November.

“You don’t see it so much in the older ones, although they do appreciate it,” Jablonski said. “But the little ones, you can see how happy they are. Their faces are lit up. It’s like giving them a present on Christmas morning.”

Jablonski said the school started sizing students and gave the measurements to Youngstown Rotary a couple months ago.

Rotary also plans to distribute to Casa Madre, the Boys and Girls Club of Youngstown and other organizations. Any surplus remaining will be given to the Salvation Army.

“Some kids know we’re coming,” Shobel said. “Their coat that they got last year is kinda worn down now, so they’re excited to get a new coat. Overall, it’s a great feeling. Rotarians are excited, the community’s excited to step in and the kids are just excited to get a new coat.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.