(BPT) - As cold weather moves across much of this country, winter coats, shoes and socks are a necessity that most of us may take for granted. But with 40 million people living in poverty according to the U.S. Census Bureau, many do not have the means for or access to the essentials they need to make it safely through the season staying warm and dry.
That's why as part of Subaru Loves to Help® month the automaker is partnering with Operation Warm®, a national nonprofit that produces those necessary items and organizes gifting programs with beneficiary organizations for children in urgent need. In a free shopping experience, volunteers from Subaru retailers and community organizations help kids select brand-new essential clothing in their size and in colors that they love.
This winter wear will keep them cozy, which is a basic need they may be living without. The fact that the items are new and personally selected by the wearer can also have a significant impact on a child's emotional well-being. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 2023 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, roughly 653,100 people were experiencing homelessness during a single night in 2023, a record high since data collection began in 2007 and a 12% increase over the year before. Nearly three of every 10 people (28%) experiencing homelessness did so as part of a family with children.
"For too many children, going without a coat, shoes or even socks can mean the difference between going to school, participating in activities and feeling confident in themselves," said Alan Bethke, senior vice president of marketing, Subaru of America, Inc. "By pairing our own commitment to be 'More Than a Car Company,' with Operation Warm's mission of being 'More Than a Coat' we're providing children in urgent need with the opportunity to select and own the brand-new necessities they need to thrive."
In partnership with Operation Warm, more than 600 Subaru retailers around the country have been matched with a local beneficiary organization that serves children in need in their local community. Through gifting and drop-off events, Subaru will help provide more than 150,000 children with brand-new coats, shoes and socks. These special events are tailored to address the unique preferences and essential needs of each child through a variety of coat, shoe and sock options donated by the Subaru retailer.
Picking out something new that is theirs to keep is important for a child's self-esteem. Choosing a new coat can provide:
- Improved social interactions and confidence. New winter coats are a fact of life for many kids. For those experiencing homelessness and other urgent need situations, new clothing can provide a sense of normalcy and belonging.
- A symbol of care and respect. The ability to choose their own winter wear shows a child that their preferences matter. That they matter.
- Reduced anxiety and stress. There's no worry that a child won't have a beautiful new coat to keep them warm on the playground at school, which eases stress on kids and their caregivers.
- Hope and optimism. Knowing that someone cares is a powerful force in this world.
"Coats, shoes and socks provide so much more than just physical warmth, and programs like this are giving kids in urgent need the relief and confidence to socialize and succeed," said Grace Sica, executive director of Operation Warm. "Teaming up with Subaru, who clearly shares our values of community connection, allows us to bring warmth and confidence to even more children around the country than ever before."
That's why Subaru has signed on to be the largest automotive partner of Operation Warm. It's part of their Subaru Love Promise vision, in which the automaker commits to be a positive force in the local communities where they live and work, going beyond donations to include actions that set an example for others to follow.
Through this partnership, Subaru and Operation Warm will be addressing the immediate needs of more than 150,000 children by the end of February, but the impact will have much longer-lasting effects. And that can make everyone feel a little warmer.