MIAMI COUNTY — As the weather turns frigid, there’s nothing a child can use more than a warm coat, and that serves as the driving force behind “Operation Cover Up,” an annual coat drive orchestrated by the Miami County Sheriff’s Office.
Now in its 28th year of operation, “Operation Cover Up” teams the sheriff’s office with Sunset Cleaners in Troy, Piqua, and West Milton to accept children’s coats for distribution to kids in need. While many local groups compete to raise the most coats for “Operation Cover Up,” students at Upper Valley Career Center in Piqua have won the contest for a 12th consecutive year.
As of the pick-up by deputy sheriffs on Thursday morning, students had gathered 947 coats to be donated.
“The career center is just another extension of the sheriff’s office’s outreach,” said Audrey Gutman, public relations coordinator for UVCC. “Our chapter of Skills U.S.A., which is a career tech student organization, learn all things about integrity, honesty, and how to be a good professional in addition to their regular training. This drive is a project of that program, and all of the labs participated. It’s great to see the kids get behind this, work together, and demonstrate leadership.”
UVCC’S HVAC group brought in the most coats of any group, totalling more than 400.
“The goal was to get 100 percent participation, and they got 96.5 percent,” Gutman said. “The students actually brought in about double the coats that they did last year.”
“This is the most coats that have come in since I’ve been here,” said school resource officer Phil Osting. “My first year, they reached 870, and that was the highest total until now.”
Coats will continue to be accepted at Troy, Piqua and West Milton Sunset Cleaners and the Miami County Sheriff’s Office. The deadline for coats is Monday, Oct. 22.
Coats will be distributed on Saturday, Oct. 27, from 9-11 a.m., at the Shop and Crop building at the Miami County Fairgrounds.