Rotary Club of Durango recently funded a donation effort that supplied La Plata Family Centers Coalition with 48 new coats, which were distributed to area children in need to keep them warm through the winter.
Rotarian Bruce Rodman was inspired last year after he heard a fellow Rotarian speak about a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit called Operation Warm, which provides new, high-quality coats to children during the onset of winter. Rodman proposed that the Rotary Club of Durango purchase coats from Operation Warm, and distribute them to La Plata County children before the lowest temperatures of the winter hit the area. In response, Rotarian Kari Plante, a dental hygienist at San Juan Basin Public Health, opted to lead an effort this year.
Plante reached out to Roseann McDermott, La Plata Family Centers Coalition executive director, with the desire to help, which resulted in 48 brightly colored, new and warm coats and a dozen fuzzy sleepers that were donated by the club and distributed through La Plata Family Centers over the course of several weeks to area children in need.
“For many, we take warmth and comfort for granted. Warm coats, however, cost money – money that some struggling families cannot spare. Providing coats for families in need helps lessen the struggle to keep children warm. Warmer children are happier children,” said McDermott. She also added that young children without warm coats have trouble in school during winter days in Colorado. For example, kids lose the incentive to perform well in school when it’s cold and they have to wait for the school bus without a proper winter coat.
The club’s charitable foundation, and a match from the Southern Colorado Rotary District, provided funding for the donations.
“I wish you could see the excitement and smiles on the children’s faces as they received their new coats,” said Trish McManus of La Plata Family Centers.
For Rotarians, the first effort was viewed as a pilot project, and the club hopes to expand next year’s program substantially, Plante said.
“It was wonderful to provide these coats, and the only downside was not having enough to meet the needs,” McDermott said. She added that the coats were high quality and built to last, and the donation effort fits the Family Centers mission: to strengthen families through community partnerships.
Rotary is a global service organization with 1.2 million members who work to create positive change in communities locally and abroad. Rotary Club of Durango, one of four clubs in La Plata County, holds weekly meetings, open to the public, at 6 p.m. Tuesdays, at the Strater Hotel, 699 Main Ave.
For more information about Rotary Club of Durango, call Rodman at 385-7899.
For more information about the Rotary-Operation Warm partnership, visit www.operationwarm.org/our-partners/rotary-clubs.