CHA distributes 6,000 coats to families, children at 14th annual Operation Warm

Oct 27, 2021

CHICAGO (Oct. 27, 2021) – The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) partnered with national non-profit Operation Warm Saturday at UIC Forum to give away 6,000 new winter coats to children living in public housing and participants of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. This was the 14th year of the partnership.

There was also a resource fair with 22 organizations offering services and giveaways, including Pepsico, Molina Healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Nan McKay & Associates, ComEd, Comcast, RSM and Shea Moisture. The Chicago Department of Public Health provided free COVID-19 and flu shots.

On hand were Mayor Lori Lightfoot, CHA CEO Tracey Scott, CHA Chairwoman Angela Hurlock and Operation Warm Partnership Director Richard Lalley.

“Our kids deserve the dignity of having a warm coat. A warm coat means protection against the elements. It means someone sees them and cares about them,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “This is the 14th year of this event. A lot of heart, sweat, tears, sacrifice and diligence by so many. I want to thank Tracey Scott and Board Chair Angela Hurlock, who understand the necessity of meeting our residents where they are. And making sure that we are tending to their needs.”

In 14 years, CHA has distributed 116,000 coats to 33,000 families.

“In 2008, Operation Warm started with a few boxes at the Fosco Park Field House. And now, more than a decade later, we are here at the UIC Forum distributing 6,000 brand new winter coats to CHA families,” CEO Scott said. “This would not be possible without the support of our sponsors, partner organizations in the service fair, and the hundreds of volunteers who are giving their time on a Saturday to make this event happen.”

Chairwoman Hurlock said: “One of the very first things I did as Chair was come to Operation Warm. This is very special to me. These are the type of programs that I love to be a part of. And these are the type of programs that look beyond the four walls we provide - to the other things our families need.”

Grace Sica, Executive Director of Operation Warm, said: “Operation Warm is extremely proud of our 14-year partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority. This event is our largest coat gifting celebration of the year and perfectly exemplifies how our new coats are more than a coat. Thousands of families come to this event each year to get coats for their children and then connect with valuable resources at our service fair. We can’t thank our sponsors enough for making this all possible.”

With two kids, Markitta Howard certainly knows the importance of Operation Warm. The Altgeld Gardens resident has received brand new winter coats over the last three years at the distribution and resource event. This year was no different.

“It is extremely beneficial for me because I have multiple children, and just purchasing the essentials – the shoes and hats and gloves – it’s a big help financially,” Howard said.

Tameika Smith has been coming to Operation Warm for three years. Besides the new coat for her son, Smith previously visited the resource fair that helped her get a job.

“I saved some money, and got my son a nice, warm coat for the winter,” she said. “I really appreciate CHA.”

Resident Jacqueline Carmona said: “It’s a great opportunity and a great help with the pandemic going on. I’m a full-time student, so this is a great help for me.”