Principal Lynn Garner of Langford Academy sees firsthand the sad reality of winter for struggling families in Chicago.
“Parents do the best they can, whether that means doubling up with sweaters or coming in with really light jackets,” Garner said.
For many, the bitter cold keeps students from venturing out at all. “It affects our attendance,” she said.
Wells Fargo is helping children in this situation weather the city’s wicked winters by giving them new cold-weather jackets through an initiative called Coats for Kids. Since 2010, Wells Fargo has provided nearly 40,000 new winter coats for students across the city.
“Kids without coats can’t go to school when the temperatures drop in Chicago,” said Kevin Ortmeyer, managing director for Wells Fargo Advisors. “Making sure children in need have brand new coats is the highlight of the year for our Chicagoland team members, who live and work in the communities we serve.”
In 2016, Wells Fargo’s Coats for Kids campaign raised $180,000 from team member donations, company contributions, and private matching grants to buy 10,000 jackets.
“Chicago is freezing in the winter. The thought that the kids are going without adequate warmth, I find very sad. So anything I can do to help, I am more than happy to,” said Darlene Nineberg of Wells Fargo Equipment Finance, who volunteers to support the effort.
Nineberg and other team member volunteers work with students at low-income schools each year to make sure each student gets a coat that fits and will protect them from the cold. The company works with the nonprofit Operation Warm to buy the coats in bulk and coordinate with schools on the kids’ sizes.
“At Operation Warm, we believe that when a new coat is given to a child, it says to that child, ‘You’re worth it’ and helps build self-esteem through pride in ownership,” said Executive Director Rich Lalley.
“Getting a brand new coat sends the kids a message that they are cared about and people want the best for them,” said Garner.
Watch the video to see Wells Fargo volunteers working with second graders at Langford fit them in their new coats.