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It's getting colder outside as York County heads into winter, and with a 10.2 percent poverty rate, according to Census data, there are bound to be families that can't afford coats for their little ones.

Enter Operation Warm, a national Coats for Kids Foundation that is based out of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The organization gives coats to children throughout the nation. This year, Dallastown Area School District, Helen-Thackston Charter School and Head Start of York County received coats from the organization.

The Dallastown Area Educational Foundation, which raises money for different endeavors and scholarships for the school district, worked with Operation Warm to obtain 48 coats for younger students in the district, according to Matt Manning, president of the foundation. The foundation had extra funds in its budget to purchase the coats from the organization, which is a nonprofit.

Other organizations wishing to obtain coats from Operation Warm can apply for grants, as Helen-Thackston Charter School did. Denise Butts, principal and CEO, explained that the school nurse applied for a grant to receive more than 200 coats. In addition to that, the school received coat donations from the school board president and other local donors.

Operation Warm sends coats of all sizes and colors to the schools and organizations that request them. Brock Clauser, director of marketing for Operation Warm, explained this is what helps the foundation stand out among general donations to schools. Students can essentially shop for their size and favorite style and color.

"There’s a lot of pride when that happens," Clauser said. "It gives a child something new around the holidays."

Clauser explained that many organizations will raise funds for a school to receive coats, much like Dallastown Area Educational Foundation. He's particularly thankful for those partners, who help children throughout the nation get coats.

For Butts, Operation Warm not only helped approximately 150 students in need in the charter school but also will help teach students about charitable giving. Because the school received more coats than anticipated, Butts expects to hold a coat drive for the community so that others can benefit.

Helen-Thackston's curriculum is homeland security-based, meaning there is a focus on service careers when teaching students. Because of that, Butts and the teachers at the school work to develop good working relationships with the community and give back through service projects each month. These service projects are typically student-run, and the coat drive will be as well, though specifics are still being discussed.

"A project like this is everything to our school, because part of our school values is that we are very service and community driven," Butts said. "It establishes a good partnership, helps instill good core values in young people and helps them understand they are a part of the community."

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