All 335 students at Brentwood’s Elroy Elementary receive free coats
Students at Elroy Elementary school recently received a gift that warmed more than their hearts.
All 335 students at the Brentwood Borough school received a new winter coat Jan. 16, thanks to the nonprofit Operation Warm.
“It’s just seeing kids come to school without hats and gloves, and knowing that they’re getting something new,” Principal Barbara Pagan said, as she watched students try on their new coats. “It’s just something that they know other people are looking out for them and care about them and them being warm.”
Pagan learned of Operation Warm while attending a meeting at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. Another principal was talking about getting coats delivered for his students. She had to ask how he made that happen.
“As soon as I got back to the building, I researched it online,” she said. “My secretary and I filled out the form that day.”
Operation Warm is a nonprofit with headquarters in Philadelphia that provides new winter coats for children in need. The organization designs and manufactures the coats itself, said Allison Price, associate director of development and strategic initiatives.
The coats are funded through foundation, corporate and community donations. In its 20th year, the nonprofit is set to hit 3 million total coat donations.
This year, Operation Warm was looking to build new relationships by giving coats to schools, nonprofits and community-based service agencies it never worked with in the past, Price said.
That’s where Elroy came in.
Pagan submitted an application in October. She heard back Jan. 2 that the school was getting coats for all of its students.
There’s a need, she said. Brentwood is a walking district, and students at times walk up to a half-mile up and down hills in the cold to get to school.
The school also is 57 percent free and reduced lunch.
Teachers gathered students’ sizes during the first week in January, and coats were delivered Jan. 14.
They’re valued at about $20 each.
Emma Thompson couldn’t wait to try on her new black and purple coat.
“I feel like a warrior because of how big it is,” said Emma, 10, a fifth-grader. “It’s cozy.”
“It’s pretty cool. I like the color,” said Christopher Mejia, 10, a fifth grader, as he tried on his “Hulk-colored” coat. After just a few minutes, he was breaking out in a sweat. The coat was doing its job.
“It’s a very good privilege to have free coats, especially with how cold it is out right now,” he said.
Abbegail Allison, 10, loved her hot pink coat. It fits better than her other coats, she said. This one is spacious. She plans to wear it every day.
“It’s nice,” she said. “I’ll probably wear it even on the warmer days.”
Skye Jones, 10, said her favorite part was the smell of a new coat.
“And how soft it feels,” she said.
Kristina Serafini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kristina at 412-324-1405, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .