"Operation Warm is an organization that I founded approximately 23 years ago, in 1998. After witnessing in an adjoining town, half a dozen kids who were waiting for a school bus on an extremely cold winter day in December, I looked at these kids and they had no coats on. I just couldn't comprehend that, so I went to a local shop and they had a total of 58 coats, all of which I bought. I wanted to put these on children in the community," Dick explains.
And although he knew the coats would be helpful, he didn't realize the extreme impact they would have on these families in need. "The children, of course, were very very happy...they were excited. The parents were crying, which I didn't understand. I then looked into poverty—and then I understood that a family of four with 24,000 to 25,000 dollars a year, is in poverty. And here we were serving their children with a brand new coat, something they couldn't afford," he says.
In his area outside Philadelphia, Dick explained that though it's a wonderful community, there is a huge divergence between those who have and those who do not have, which is why he was so empowered to make a change.
"Today [Operation Warm] has about 31 employees throughout the country. We've served hundreds and hundreds of schools and shelters. We have 200,000 hours from volunteers who assist us throughout the country, 10,000 pairs of shoes [have been donated] as the organization has grown from coats to shoes. We've helped migrants in Texas, Chicago, New York, and California. We've helped the homeless everywhere. We're providing so much more than apparel, it's emotional warmth... a bit of hope," Dick says. "In a couple of weeks we're serving our 5 millionth child."
Our friends at Duluth Trading Company wanted to help, so they are donating $10,000 so Operation Warm can continue to keep up the amazing work!