District 6440 Rotary Clubs continue their longstanding partnership with Operation Warm to bring warmth, confidence and hope to local children living in need. This year, 19 clubs have either already ordered new Operation Warm winter coats for children in their communities, plan to over the coming weeks, or are supporting other local Operation Warm programs.
District 6440 first began working with Operation Warm in 2009, after several club President Elects met the organization at the Land of Lincoln PETS conference. Then President Elect Rich Lalley, of the Rotary Club of Winnetka-Northfield, was looking for a signature project for his year as President, and Operation Warm fit the bill perfectly.
Several months after PETS, Rich joined Operation Warm’s small staff and began building the program in the Chicago area and with Rotary clubs across the U.S. Since then over 300 Rotary clubs have helped provide new Operation Warm coats to children living in need in their community, including 36 District 6440 clubs.
“Operation Warm is a project that perfectly aligns with Rotarians’ values and interests in being ‘People of Action’ who make a positive difference in the world,” says Rich Lalley. “It is also a perfect project to showcase Rotary clubs in their community, as the media love covering stories about helping children. So, in addition to being a part of community service plans, it should be a highlight of clubs’ public image efforts.”
COVID-19 has caused a sharp increase in unemployment, especially among those with low paying jobs.  So the need is greater than it has been in years. While coat giving logistics need to be reimagined this year to incorporate social distancing, clubs and their beneficiaries are finding ways.
2020 Participating Clubs
Carpentersville Morning, Dundee Township, Grayslake, Gurnee, Illinois Beach Sunrise, Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Morning, Lake in the Hills, Lake Zurich, Long Grove - Kildeer - Hawthorn Woods, McHenry Area, Richmond-Spring Grove Area, River Cities, Schaumburg AM, St. Charles Breakfast, Wheeling, Wilmette, Wilmette Harbor, Winnetka Northfield, Woodstock Noon.
Past participants include Arlington Heights, Evanston, Evanston Lighthouse, Glencoe, Glen Ellyn, Glenview, Libertyville Noon, Mount Prospect Sunrise, Mount Prospect/Prospect Heights, Northbrook, Palatine, Park Ridge, Schaumburg-Hoffman Estates, Skokie Valley, Wauconda, Waukegan, and West Chicago. And last year, the Libertyville Interact Club provided coats to children at a North Chicago Charter school!
How an Operation Warm Rotary Program Works
Each club identifies its own beneficiary organization(s). The club may find the need greatest in a local school or youth services agency. Next, the Rotary club raises funds to support its project. Operation Warm provides the coats, materials, guidance and additional tools and resources.
To learn more about Operation Warm, visit their website. To reach out directly to Rich Lalley, contact him via email. Rich is happy to speak at Rotary Clubs about Operation Warm.