FedEx Cares, Op­er­a­tion Warm give coats to kids

More than 300 stu­dents will be able to bun­dle up

The Commercial Appeal - - Business - Max Gar­land Mem­phis Com­mer­cial Ap­peal USA TO­DAY NET­WORK - TEN­NESSEE

Walks to school should be eas­ier for Hawkins Mill El­e­men­tary School stu­dents this win­ter.

Op­er­a­tion Warm and FedEx Cares teamed up once again on Thurs­day to de­liver new win­ter coats to Mem­phis chil­dren in need. The two or­ga­ni­za­tions — Op­er­a­tion Warm, a Penn­syl­va­ni­abased non­profit, and FedEx Cares, the global giv­ing arm of the Mem­phis­based lo­gis­tics gi­ant — gave 325 stu­dents at the school coats to keep them warm this win­ter.

“We have a lot of walk­ers [to school], and so mak­ing sure that they’re bun­dled up as they’re walk­ing down the street will be some­thing that the par­ents will ul­ti­mately ap­pre­ci­ate, as well,” Hawkins Mill Prin­ci­pal Claude Wil­son II said, as stu­dents be­gan fil­ing into the school gym to re­ceive their new coats Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Op­er­a­tion Warm pro­vides coats to chil­dren in need, with the aim of boost­ing school at­ten­dance and stu­dent self es­teem in the process. The non­profit has been ac­tive for 20 years and wants to put an ex­cla­ma­tion point on that mile­stone by hand­ing out its 3 mil­lionth coat this win­ter.

“See­ing [stu­dents] light up and smile know­ing some­thing is here for them and giv­ing them the gift of warmth is such a pre­cious gift for them,” said Rachel Kes­sel­man, a FedEx com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­viser. “A lot of times, it’s a bar­rier for kids to get out when it’s cold or when it’s rainy, and know­ing that ev­ery kid is get­ting a brand new coat is just a heart­warm­ing feel­ing.”

That wasn't the only high­light for Hawkins Mill El­e­men­tary stu­dents, ei­ther. Sev­eral Mem­phis Griz­zlies play­ers sur­prised stu­dents dur­ing the event around 2:30 p.m. af­ter a team prac­tice.

Op­er­a­tion Warm and FedEx Cares are fa­mil­iar al­lies. The two have part­nered for the past decade, Kes­sel­man said, with FedEx first of­fer­ing in-kind ship­ping ser­vices and now us­ing its lo­gis­ti­cal mus­cle to help dis­trib­ute the coats.

FedEx em­ploy­ees are also fre­quent vol­un­teers at sev­eral Op­er­a­tion Warm coat-giv­ing events in the coun­try, with 60 vol­un­teers Thurs­day help­ing stu­dents pick out coats. Their col­lab­o­ra­tion last year aimed to pro­vide nearly 5,000 coats in 10 ci­ties.

In 2017, FedEx funded and de­liv­ered coats for chil­dren around the coun­try in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Op­er­a­tion Warm. They also teamed up last win­ter to pro­vide A.B. Hill El­e­men­tary School stu­dents in Mem­phis with coats.

Mem­phis was the non­profit’s fifth stop on the tour, and it is vis­it­ing San Fran­cisco on Fri­day. As of Thurs­day morn­ing, Op­er­a­tion Warm’s web­site said it has de­liv­ered 2,793,512 coats through­out Amer­ica so far.

Max Gar­land cov­ers FedEx, lo­gis­tics and health care for The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal. Reach him at max.gar­land@com­mer­cial

ap­peal.com or 901-529-2651 and on Twit­ter @MaxGar­landTypes.

Op­er­a­tion Warm pro­vides coats to chil­dren in need, with the aim of boost­ing school at­ten­dance and stu­dent self es­teem in the process.

Mem­phis Griz­zlies guard Wayne Selden signs au­to­graphs as his team joins FedEx and Op­er­a­tion Warm on Thurs­day.

Fa’Len­cia Neal, 7, sports her new win­ter wear as FedEx, the Mem­phis Griz­zlies and Op­er­a­tion Warm sur­prised chil­dren with new coats at Hawkins Mill El­e­men­tary School on Thurs­day. PHO­TOS BY JOE RONDONE/THE COM­MER­CIAL AP­PEAL

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