In Ogden and Weber County, 10.9% of children under the age of 17 live below the poverty line.

Tough economic circumstances can make it difficult for families to provide new shoes and warm coats, but Operation Warm, a nonprofit that manufactures those items, held an event in Ogden on Tuesday night to help kids in need.

With the support of Mountain America Credit Union and Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership, Operation Warm gave away 350 pairs of shoes and 96 coats at the Community Action Partnership headquarters — with the quality of the clothing items being on par with clothes that would be purchased from any other clothing company, said Michael Andrews, Operation Warm’s senior Intermountain West partnerships manager.

“The quality of the coats are amazing; you wouldn’t know that they came from a nonprofit,” said Andrews, adding that the styles of shoes and coats constantly evolve to remain stylish and appealing to the kids that need them. “With inflation at its highest since the ‘80s, these families are struggling and buying a new coat is often a stretch.”

Having given away more than a million coats to kids in need across the country, Andrews said Operation Warm would not be capable of such a feat of service if it weren’t for corporate sponsors like Mountain America Credit Union footing the bill for the manufacturing of the coats and shoes that are given away. Since 2019, the credit union has partnered with Operation Warm to give away 5,000 coats and 3,000 pairs of shoes.

“Operation Warm really allows our employees to connect with the community and see the kids’ faces light up when they pick out their new coat,” said Brittani Forbush, Mountain America Credit Union’s vice president of corporate partnerships, adding that the kids at Tuesday’s event were able to pick from a range of different color and style selections. “A new coat or a pair of shoes may seem like a simple necessity, but we want people to see that it isn’t (simple) for everyone — especially for those families that are struggling to pay rent and other bills.”

Andrews and Forbush emphasized how important events like the one held on Tuesday can be for kids and their ability to be confident in themselves. That’s why Operation Warm opted to manufacture and donate shoes and coats in a variety of styles and colors to best suit the personal taste of each child who came to the event.

“It’s pretty amazing to see how a coat or a pair of shoes can change a kid’s life, it can give them the confidence they need,” said Forbush, explaining that kids who don’t have a warm coat may not be able to make it to school on cold days or how kids who go to school without decent shoes face a great deal of embarrassment. “It may seem like a very small thing but it has such a big impact on the kids.”

Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership is an organization dedicated to helping impoverished families in Weber County gain access to resources that can get them the necessities to raise successful and fulfilled children — the organization works with companies and organizations in the community to deliver services to families in need that range from medical care to financial literacy classes.

“There’s no one agency that can do it all,” said Christine Ipsen, executive director of the Community Action Partnership, using the term “collective impact” to refer to the good that can come out of multiple organizations supporting each other to do something to give back to the community