More than 470 West Seaford Elementary School students went home for winter break a little warmer because of the gift of a new winter coat. The coats are among thousands being provided to Delaware students thanks to a partnership between Gov. John Carney's office, the Delaware Department of Education and nonprofit Operation Warm.
Secretary of Education Susan Bunting joined Carney at West Seaford Elementary Dec. 21 to distribute the coats. "Preparing our students for success in school and life often means we need to meet more than their academic needs," said Carney. "This is another way to support our children and their families so they can arrive in our classrooms ready to learn. I am thankful for partners such as Operation Warm that help us meet these important needs."
Operation Warm officials said they were eager to support Delaware's need, and donated the coats at no cost to Delaware taxpayers.
"When the governor approached us with the need to support 10,000 Delaware students, we knew we had to fulfill the challenge," said Dick Sanford, founder and CEO of Operation Warm. "Operation Warm has provided new coats to millions of children across the country, but the children of Delaware hold a special place in our hearts. This is where we served our first group of students nearly 20 years ago. Thanks to our generous partners, we are thrilled to be able to provide up to 10,000 brand-new coats to help improve the lives of young children across the state."
Locally, Operation Warm delivered other coats to Cape Henlopen School District's Milton Elementary and Indian River School District's Georgetown and North Georgetown elementary schools.
In August, Carney announced an initiative to stock basic-needs closets in 45 high-need Delaware schools. Delaware's basic-needs closets provide elementary and middle school students across the state with increased access to free products designed to meet students' needs so they can effectively participate in class. Each school's basic-needs closet has been stocked with products identified by districts and charter schools as essential to the well-being of their students, including hygiene products, school supplies, clothes and more.
Delaware healthcare institutions and businesses statewide helped fund the closets, including Christiana Care, Bayhealth, Nemours, Incyte, Nanticoke and Beebe Health Systems, as well as Cover Rossiter, EDiS and Drinker Biddle. Delaware partnered with the nonprofit First Book to purchase the basic needs products at a reduced rate, as a part of the First Book First State partnership. Operation Warm was able to provide new winter coats thanks in part to funding from partners Good Samaritan Inc. and Welfare Foundation Inc.
For students such as those at West Seaford Elementary, Operation Warm's efforts mean they now have a brand-new, well-fitted coat that will keep them warm as they wait for the school bus or play outside.
"Our students come to us with many needs that affect their ability to learn," said David Perrington, Seaford School District superintendent. "Our schools need community partnerships such as this so we can support them in and out of the classroom."
To learn how to help students in high-needs schools, Delawareans can go to www.de.gov/schoolclosets.