After 30 years of operating the “Operation Cover-Up” Program, the United Way Board of Directors is proud to announce the passing of the torch to its community partner, The Salvation Army.

Initiated in 1986, the program was developed to ensure that no individual would be without a warm winter coat.  And over this period of time, over 54,000 coats (and hats and mittens, too!) have been distributed to our community’s most vulnerable residents.

“This was one of the first direct service programs administered by the local United Way,” said CEO, Karen Kirkwood-Whyte. “There was a need identified that no one was meeting at the time. We rallied the community behind this cause and created a program to ensure that children, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas would be able to stay warm through the long winter months. As programs tend to evolve over time, Operation Cover-Up is in a position to be fully embraced by our community partner – The Salvation Army – and will be sustainable over the long-run.”

Beginning as a partnership with the Chatham-Kent Police Services and local dry cleaners, the program expanded to include sponsorship and assistance from Chatham-Kent Fire and Emergency Services, St. Andrews United Church, Maycourt Club of Chatham, Rotary International, and the Prosperity Roundtable … and a host of community volunteers who helped to donate, sort and distribute clothing. United Way is most grateful for the generosity demonstrated by those individuals who played a part in this ‘people helping people’ program.

Individuals willing to donate their gently used, clean winter coats will be encouraged to take them directly to The Salvation Army locations in Chatham, Blenheim (at the Blenheim Baptist Church), Ridgetown and Wallaceburg … as well as the Tilbury Information and HELP Centre. These same locations will also serve as the distribution points for these items.

Speaking on behalf of The Salvation Army, Captain Stephanie Watkinson noted, “It is our distinct pleasure to continue delivery of this program which aligns well with our organization’s mandate.  We intend to retain the name of the program- “Operation Cover-Up” and will be issuing details of the 2017 Program in the next few months.  In the meantime, as spring cleaning is upon us, we would encourage individuals to think of this valuable community program when cleaning out their closets.”

For further information, please contact Karen Kirkwood-Whyte at 519-354-0430 and/or Captain Stephanie Watkinson at 519-354-1430.