Thanks to the Russellville Rotary Club, dozens of needy students in Russellville and Logan County got a brand new warm winter coat last week.
For five years now, the Rotary Club has taken part in Operation Warm, which makes sure the most deserving students in the Russellville Independent and Logan County school systems get a new, warm winter coat in time for the cold months of the year.
This year, some 246 coats were distributed to students in all eight local schools.
In the five years the program has been ongoing, 1,147 coats have been handed out.
Operation Warm spun off from the Rotary’s Happy Feet = Learning Feet program, which gives many of the same students a pair of free sneakers.
That program is in its sixth year and has given out 1,858 pairs of shows.
“Our two school superintendents and the family resource personnel at the various schools have been wonderful to coordinate this project,” said Jim Riley, project chairman for the Rotary Club. “We wound up giving out pairs of shoes to the neediest young people and provided additional shoes throughout the year to those that the schools thought was in an emergency situation where they needed help.”
One of the most impressive aspects of that program is that the children receiving the coats and shoes are not recognizable by them.
Riley said that this year there will be 24 different patterns of coats and five different patterns of shoes for the children to pick from.
“There was all kinds of patterns, so the kids won’t be stereotyped for having a free coat or free shoes,” Riley said.
Rotary added a third component to the programs this year and will be providing a pair of new blue jeans to the students who need them most.
“Quite frankly, because of the generosity of the community in years past, we are now able to do this,” Riley said. “We’re not in the business of keeping money in a bank account, we’re trying to help needy children.”
Rotary handed out 319 pairs of jeans. All three projects cost a combined $19,633 with most of the money for the programs comes through community donations.
All contributions will go directly to buying shoes, coats and jeans for needy children in the community and they are 100 percent tax deductible.
The family resource directors in the individual schools will identify the children they feel are the most needy.
If you would like to make a donation, it can be mailed to the Russellville Rotary Foundation, c/o Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC, CPAs, 167 South Main Street, Russellville, KY 42276.
To contact OJ Stapleton, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.