Boston Foundation, Operation Warm, City of Boston and BHA partner for “New Coats for the New Year”

Distribution of 5,000 new coats to children begins with kickoff event; Operation Warm plans to begin Massachusetts production

January 20, 2012

For immediate release: January 21, 2012
Contact: Ted McEnroe, 617-338-3890

 Coats  for kids JPG

Boston – The Boston Foundation, Operation Warm and the City of Boston kicked off an effort to distribute new winter coats to more than 5,000 children aged 3-12 who live in Boston Housing Authority developments.  View photos from today's event on Flickr.

The “New Coats for the New Year” drive is a partnership including the Boston Foundation, the City of Boston, the Boston Housing Authority and Operation Warm. It was introduced today by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and BHA Administrator Bill McGonigle at an event at Maverick Heights in East Boston, one of six developments that received new coats today.

“Every child deserves a winter coat to keep them warm and healthy during these cold winter months,” Mayor Menino said. “I want to thank the hard-working men and women of the BHA for undertaking this hard work,” said Mayor Menino. “Without their efforts, this ambitious project to reach every child in grades K-6 would be impossible.”

“At a time when food prices are rising, and heating oil prices are setting all-time highs, the difference something as simple as a new, warm, winter coat can make cannot be underestimated,” said Paul S. Grogan, the President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “This effort demonstrates the power of working together to meet critical winter needs – and serves as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done.”

The “New Coats for the New Year” effort was sparked by a discussion between Boston Foundation Vice President for Program Robert Lewis, Jr., and Richard Sanford, the Founder and Chairman of Operation Warm, which provides new winter coats to children in need through strategic and community partnerships with a variety of donors and community organizations around the country. Founded in 1998, Operation Warm will distribute its one-millionth new coat this winter.

Lewis and Sanford met each other at a tour this fall of Lowell, Mass.-based American MoJo, MoJo, which stands for “Moms and Jobs”, manufactures fleece apparel and other items while providing sustainable jobs with high wages, daycare and other benefits for workers. American MoJo was founded by a Boston Foundation donor in 2009, and this fall announced a developing partnership to produce coats for Massachusetts families that will be distributed by Operation Warm.

“This effort would be impossible without the commitment of Dick Sanford to reach out to children across Boston,” said Lewis, who introduced Sanford at the kickoff event. “This is the first piece of what we hope will be a long-lasting partnership between our organizations – and we are thrilled to be able to work with the city and the BHA to ensure these coats reach those kids who need them.”

“Operation Warm has been working in the Commonwealth for several years thanks to generous support from both the Bank of New York Mellon and Federal Express.  The additional 5,000 coats for the children of the Boston Housing Authority is in recognition of a new and exciting partnership between Operation Warm and The Boston Foundation,” said Sanford.

“Our impact in Boston is truly just beginning.  Robert Lewis of TBF has opened new doors for Operation Warm in Boston through our shared commitment and vision to help children in need. Ultimately, we’d like to ensure every child who needs a winter coat receives a new coat from Operation Warm,” Sanford added.

Coats were distributed Saturday to children from six BHA developments from Maverick Landing in East Boston and from the Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center in Dorchester. About a thousand children from Maverick Landing, Orient Heights, Franklin Field, Franklin Hills, Fairmount and Gallivan developments received their coats.

Volunteers from the Boston Foundation, its funders and other partner organizations coordinated today’s distribution, manning the tables at both sites. The BHA is working to distribute coats to children in the agency’s other developments in the coming days.


The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of $850 million.  In 2011, the Foundation and its donors made almost $78 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of $81 million. The Foundation is made up of some 850 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes.  The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to address the community’s and region’s most pressing challenges.  For more information about the Boston Foundation, visit or call 617-338-1700.

Operation Warm is a national nonprofit based in Chadds Ford, PA, that was established in 1998 to produce and distribute new winter coats to children in need living in the United States, alleviating a major financial burden for parents who struggle to pay for basic necessities.  Operation Warm raises money to distribute the coats with support from local community partners including civic organizations, businesses, foundations and other philanthropic organizations.  Operation Warm coats are often the catalyst for these community partners to develop relationships with families that help begin to break the cycle of poverty and give children a sense of belonging. Operation Warm will celebrate distributing its millionth coat to a child at the end of its current fiscal year.

American MoJo is a newly formed social venture whose objective is to address the issues facing mothers who are poverty-stricken.  American MoJo operates its first clothing manufacturing plant in Lowell, MA.  The organization actively hires Americans at risk of poverty, and offers 30 percent more pay than minimum wage, healthcare benefits, free daycare and life skills classes in addition to on-the-job training.  The majority of American MoJo's workforce is comprised of single mothers who live in the Greater Boston area.  By providing freedom from the strain of daycare costs and a new career path for this underserved demographic, American MoJo enables a new start for moms who desperately need it.

In September 2011, Operation Warm and American MoJo announced a partnership with the joint goal to raise $1 million by April 1, 2012, to allow American MoJo to produce thousands of winter coats that will be distributed exclusively to Massachusetts families by September 2012.

The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) is the largest landlord in Boston, housing approximately 10 percent of the city’s residents, and is the largest public housing authority in New England.  BHA’s mission is to provide stable, quality affordable housing for low and moderate income persons, deliver these services with integrity and mutual accountability, and create living environments which serve as catalysts for the transformation from dependency to economic self-sufficiency. Of the 64 developments, 37 are designated as elderly/disabled developments and 27 are designated as family developments.