The FedEx Foundation sent about 30 local Utah FedEx employees to take a detour from their usual routes Wednesday to deliver winter coats to some Parkview Elementary students in Salt Lake City.
With temperatures dropping below 40 degrees this week, local FedEx employees and Operation Warm, a nonprofit organization that manufactures coats for children in need, provided winter jackets to 250 students from pre-kindergarten to third grade. Each coat came equipped with a light to keep students visible to cars.
Throughout the morning, students, joined by a volunteer, flocked to the school’s gymnasium to choose a winter coat that was their size and favorite color.
For 7-year-old Emma Huffman, receiving a coat was a surprise. She chose pink.
“It was very soft and it was very warm. It was like the best coat I ever had,” she said.
The winter coats were made by Operation Warm and bought by FedEx, according to Grace Sica, vice president of corporate partnerships at Operation Warm.
The involvement of The FedEx Foundation is part of the company’s global community engagement program, FedEx Cares 50 by 50. In July, the company announced the program’s goal is to positively impact 50 million lives by the company’s 50th anniversary in 2023.
Sica said students are receiving much more than a coat.
“We’re giving the gift of warmth, confidence and hope. For the kids who are receiving coats through our program, they are over the moon to be able to pick out something new in a color that they like,” she said.
Sica said research has shown that winter coats could help students get to school and allow them to play outside in inclement weather. According to Operation Warm’s website, 75% of students the program serves wait at a bus stop or walk to school.
“What we do is very straightforward and very simple and it’s really impactful,” Sica said.
She noted that Operation Warm, which recently opened its Salt Lake City office, worked with local school districts to determine schools with the most need. Parkview Elementary is one of the first Utah schools to participate in the program.
As he gave children coats, FedEx district sales manager Jason Kelly asked them if they own any coats.
“A lot of them said no,” he said. “Imagine walking to school every day in 20-degree weather during the winter — that’s not good if you don’t have a coat. It’s important, it’s been humbling for our team to be able to be a part of it. “
Kelly said it was an amazing experience to see the children’s confidence increase and the smiles on their faces widen as they received their new coats.
“Simply giving them a coat and telling them that they look great in their new coat, you just see what a difference it can make on a kid’s life just to have something that’s so basic to most of us,” he said.
Second grader Tzetiel Moreno, 7, said she was excited to choose a black winter coat.
For some students, the coats were a “big deal,” according to Parkview Elementary Principal Erin Anderson, as it could be the first time they’ve ever owned a brand-new coat and not a hand-me-down. She said parents were also grateful.
Dale Bailey, a service center manager at The FedEx Foundation, said he felt like he made an impact in a child’s life.
“These are the things that lift you back up,” he said.