As the weather in Chicagoland turned “frightful," local Rotarians took action to “Give the Gift of Warmth” to area children living in need.  In partnership with Operation Warm, Inc., 13 clubs in District 6440 planned and executed community service projects to provide new winter coats to low-income children, making District 6440 the top district in the U.S. in terms of the number of clubs partnering with Operation Warm and in the number of children receiving new coats.  “This is but one more example of the power of Rotary and the excellence of the clubs in District 6440," said District Governor Bruce Baumberger.  “Last year District 6440 led the nation in number of clubs partnering with Operation Warm; this year we led in the number of children served.  It is simply outstanding.  I’m proud of all the clubs that participated.”


 Some 2,688 new winter coats have been distributed through a variety of area schools, township offices, and social service agencies.  Each club identified one or more “beneficiary organizations” they wished to support with the donation of new coats and implemented a fund raising plan to cover the costs of acquiring the coats from Operation Warm.  For many clubs, this was the perfect project for a District Simplified Grant.  Participating clubs and the organizations they supported are:



Dundee Township

Evanston Lighthouse

3 District 300 grade schools in partnership with the Dundee Township Boy's and Girl's Club

2 District 300 grade schools

“Grandparents Raising Grandchildren” program run by Evanston/Skokie Valley Senior Services office of the North Shore Senior Center & Evanston School Children's Clothing Association

Lake Forest-Lake Bluff

North Chicago School District

Long Grove

Diamond Lake Schools

Mount Prospect Sunrise

Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County

Mount Prospect- Prospect Heights

Thanksgiving Meal Program managed by Village and Park District

Skokie Valley

Niles Township Office for political refugees


Wheeling High School Holiday Food Distribution

Wilmette Harbor

Carman-Buckner Elementary School in Waukegan

Winnetka-Northfield (with support from Deerfield , Wilmette Harbor & Chicgoland Korean clubs)

Woodstock Noon

Youth Services of Glenview-Northbrook & Chicago Commons





District 200 grade schools


In addition to these club projects, five individual Rotarians led projects either through their employer, church, or as individuals. 

Operation Warm was introduced to our district at the 2009 Land of Lincoln PETS program for presidents-elect throughout the state of Illinois.  Rich Lalley, 2009-10 president of the Rotary Club of Winnetka-Northfield, was impressed with the concept and took it back to his club.  Widespread enthusiasm for the idea led the club to adopt the program last fall.

With the intention of expanding the Operation Warm - Rotary partnership throughout the country, Rich joined the small staff of Operation Warm in late 2009 to lead its partnership efforts with service organizations, particularly Rotary clubs.   Founded by Richard Sanford, charter member of the Rotary Club of Longwood in Kennett Square, PA, Operation Warm began as a club community service project in the late 1990s and now is one of the largest non-profit charitable organizations distributing new winter coats in the U.S.  In 2010 Operation Warm distributed more than 150,000 new winter coats, bringing the total number of children served to more than 750,000 since 1998.  This fall, 90 Rotary Clubs in 49 Districts have executed Operation Warm community service projects. 

Coats are still available this year.  Contact Rich Lalley ( for more information.