CHA and Operation Warm distribute 7,500 coats to residents at 12th annual event

Oct 28, 2019

Press contacts:
Office of Communications – Chicago Housing Authority
Molly Sullivan: (312) 786-3344;
Matthew Aguilar: (312) 935-2646;

CHICAGO (Oct. 28, 2019) - The Chicago Housing Authority and Operation Warm partnered for the 12th consecutive year Saturday at UIC Forum to give away 7,500 new winter coats to children living in public housing and participating in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.

Participants also enjoyed a resource fair with nearly 30 organizations offering services and giveaways. They included Wells Fargo, Pepsico, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Comcast and ComEd.

CHA and Operation Warm have given out more than 100,000 coats to some 26,000 families over the last 12 years.

CHA Board Chairperson Angela Hurlock, Executive Director of Claretian Associates, was on hand and helped distribute coats. Hurlock was appointed as CHA Chairperson by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in September. She said she is excited to work with CHA, and to see how Operation Warm is helping so many people.

 “Residents can get a coat here, they can get a flu shot, they can see CEDA, they can do a lot of different things that are just as important as the bricks and mortar and walls that we provide,” Hurlock said. “This is amazing, but it’s also a challenge, knowing the needs are great. We can’t just do it by ourselves, and that’s why the sponsors we have are tremendous, bringing together all of the things we couldn’t do by ourselves.”

Richard Lalley, Development Director from Operation Warm, said, many times, those who live in need don’t know where to go for resources. 

“This is a way to have families come to get a coat for their kids because they can save themselves $100-$200 that they can now spend on rent, food or school supplies,” Lalley said. “And while they’re here, they get connected with these great resources. It’s the epitome of our tagline: ‘It’s more than a coat.’”

Acting CHA CEO James Bebley said:

“I think it’s important for us to emphasize the fact that we provide more than four walls and a roof. Providing housing is also providing resources that people need to live well and live comfortably,” Bebley said.

The partnership between CHA and Operation Warm began in 2008. Operation Warm was looking for a partner that could handle large-scale coat distribution, and the first event kicked off with a few boxes at Fosco Park Field House. Over the years it has grown to provide thousands of public housing residents with new winter coats (and access to services such as flu shots) on the last Saturday of October.

Public housing residents and HCV participants pre-registered for the event. There were about 1,200 residents arriving each hour.