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Coats donated to entire student body at Firestone Park Elementary School through Operation Warm

Posted at 5:00 PM, Oct 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-16 18:39:01-04

The entire student body at Firestone Park Elementary School in Akron received new coats Tuesday morning.

Operation Warm, a national non-profit which makes the coats, visited the school along with FedEx volunteers who helped the kids pick out their favorite colors before sizing them.

Fifth grade student Janiya Kimbrough was grateful for her new pink and gray coat.

"Because all the other coats I had last year I couldn't fit in anymore," she said. "Now that I have a coat, my mom doesn't have to go out and stuff and get a new coat for me. I'm just really thankful that they got me a coat."

Eighty-three percent of students at the school are living in need and qualify for free and reduced school meals. The number jumps to 90 percent when you include the entire Akron Public School District.

"This is a time when the weather is getting cold and this provides an opportunity for students that would not have a coat, they have it now," said Principal Sharon Jones.

Jim Mullen, the President and CEO of the United Way of Summit County, said 68 percent of Akron's population is living in poverty or considered working poor. Put another way, that totals 84,000 households among nearly 200,000 city residents.

"That's a significant number. Summit County, as a whole, is over 40 percent, so when you look at those numbers, our primary goal is to drive those numbers down," Mullen said.

Mullen added the United Way has changed its focus from writing checks to organizations to doing more direct service when it comes to educational and financial empowerment assistance to help families in need.

"If we continue down the path of kind of triaging problems and not getting the root cause, we're going to continue to need a lot of band-aids."

Operation Warm will be holding another coat giving event Wednesday morning at Bolton Elementary in Cleveland.