Newark elementary school students get new coats thanks to Operation Warm

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Toni Yates has the story of Operation Warm, providing children with new winter coats.

The gym at an elementary school in New Jersey was transformed Tuesday as the entire student body got new winter coats, courtesy Operation Warm.

The national nonprofit, which provides brand new coats to kids in need, provided every student at Lincoln Elementary School in Newark with a brand new coat. Fifty local volunteers personally helped the children try on their coats, picking out their favorite color and size, and the response was big smiles and big happiness.

Principal Debora Weaver responded to a grant offer, something she usually asks an assistant to do.

"This one really stuck (with) me, and I just went on and did it on faith," she said. "And I'm so happy I did."

Each one of her 440 kids received a new coat.

"I like it," third-grader Anthony said. "It's so warm, and it feels so comfortable I could fall asleep in it."

That comfort came courtesy FedEx Cares volunteers.

"It's such a meaningful experience for our team to be able to give back to communities where they live and work," volunteer Rachel Kesselman said.

In 20 years, Operation Warm has given away three million coats.

"They know it's not somebody else's that they're being given," Operation Warm's Julie D'Esposito said. "It's not a hand-me-down. It's not a brother's or sister's. It says made specially for them."

It was a milestone event for the school.

"We've been able to share coats with them in the past, but it's been like 40, 50," Weaver said. "Nothing like 440."

Some of the volunteers showed up right after they clocked out at work.

"Straight from working on the ramp, leaving to go deliver packages," Kesselman said. "We're really just so happy that our team members are able to join us to provide that gift of warmth."

The kids got fitted, but each picked out his or her own coat.

"They're the best people in the whole wide world," third-grader Dante said.

Thanks to Operation Warm, more than 400,000 kids across the country will zip up in new coats this winter.

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