“Operation Warm” Revisited
            After a recent Rotary Club of Ames weekly meeting during which I announced/encouraged our club’s involvement in Operation Warm – a project to provide winter coats for children in need, it dawned on me that I hadn’t done a very good job of making the case for our participation.  What is Operation Warm anyway?  Would this organization make good and appropriate use of our donations?  Did they have a history of success?  And if put to the test, could Operation Warm pass the Four-Way Test?
            As it turns out, Operation Warm originally began as a community service project of the Longwood Rotary Club (Kennett Square, PA).  As the story goes, it was a cold November day when Rotarian Dick Sanford noticed a family from Central America who recently had come north to work the fields and farms of Chester County (near Philadelphia).  With no winter clothing for Mom or the children, they stood shivering in the bitter wind.  Dick noticed their desperate situation, took them to a local merchant, and bought them winter necessities.  But Dick didn’t stop there.  Upon further investigation he found additional pockets of poverty in this otherwise well-to-do enclave.  It was then and there that he established Operation Warm with the simple goal of providing a new (emphasis on “new”) winter coat for any kid that needed one.  Today, over 160 Rotary Clubs in more than 50 Districts partner with Operation Warm to conduct service projects that provide new winter coats to children in their communities.
            Rotarians like Dick Sanford make me very proud to belong to Rotary International.  “Service above self” and the Four-Way Test are more than words on a banner for Dick.  And I think we should follow his great example.  After all, $16.50 is all we’re asking for.  Surely that memorable theatrical performance from Dean Phillips is worth at least that much!
Jeff Iles, President
Rotary Club of Ames