Christmas came a few weeks early for students at Harrisburg’s Scott Elementary School this morning.
All 570 students at the K-5 school received a new winter coat today from Operation Warm, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that distributes jackets to children in need.
The giveaway was jointly sponsored by IGS Energy, a natural gas and electricity supplier with offices in Harrisburg.
Starting at 9 a.m., students filed into the Scott gymnasium to claim their new jackets. Local and out-of-town volunteers from IGS and Operation Warm helped them choose among different sizes and colors.
IGS provided funding for the coats, which are manufactured by Operation Warm under their own proprietary clothing line, according to Operation Warm projects manager Gabrielle De Leo.
The coats were provided at no cost to the children or the school. The Harrisburg giveaway was one of five that Operation Warm has hosted throughout the Northeast and Midwest this season, and will also be one of its largest.
Operation Warm fields partnership requests from businesses across the country that want to distribute coats to local children, De Leo said.
They then identify eligible school sites, based on criteria including school size, the diversity of the student population, and the number of students who receive free and reduced lunch.
Like all schools in the Harrisburg City School District, the high rate of low-income students at Scott School mean that every student qualifies for a free or reduced lunch.
Many Scott students also walk to school, according to principal Eugene Spells, making it all the more important that they have warm coats in the coming winter months.
“Knowing they’ll have a coat to put on every morning to get to school, it might not seem like a big deal to all of us but it’s a big deal to them,” Spells said.