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FedEx sponsors event that distributes free coats to students at Rosa Parks Elementary in Portland.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Hannah, a fourth-grader at Rosa Parks Elementary, tries on a new winter jacket during the Operation Warm giveaway on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Kids need coats!

It's true: The breeze can freeze anyone caught out during blustery weather — but the pupils at one North Portland school will be all zipped up and warm thanks to a generous donation.

National nonprofit Operation Warm distributed about 350 winter coats to students at Rosa Parks Elementary, located at 8960 N. Woolsey Ave. in the Portsmouth neighborhood, on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

"I feel like, 'Oh my gosh, is this really happening,'" gushed a fifth-grade girl named Zionna.

"It's awesome," added Hannah, a fourth-grader. "I like that it has purple and all the other colors."

Hannah, who walks to school, said some of her peers keep their jackets or hoodies on during class because they get cold. She's amped about her "good teacher" this year who is helping instruct her in science, math, reading and writing.

The fleece-lined coats were available in 16 styles for boys and another 16 for girls, and were available in practically every hue of the rainbow. The coats also come with a detachable hood, water repellent shell, deep pockets and are machine washable.

The entire program was funded by FedEx, whose employees volunteered to greet each child and chauffeur them among the piles of coats sorted into different sizes. After picking out their favorite garment, the tykes stretched their hands sky high and wrapped themselves in a "self-hug" to ensure the sleeves of their jacket fit. Then it was time to sign a thank-you card and head back to class.

"I grew up in this neighborhood, a couple blocks from here," said Brian Furrer, a manager for FedEx Ground's facility in Troutdale. "I wanted to give back to my community."

TRIBUNE PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Rosa Parks Elementary fifth-grader Saane mulls her options with a FedEx volunteer on Tuesday, Nov. 13 in Portland. "When I was growing up, we didn't have anything like this," he continued.

Operation Warm has never partnered for a giveaway in Portland before, so organizers looked at publicly-available data for local schools where more than 75 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch. That's how they came upon Rosa Parks, where every student gets lunch for free.

Principal Tamala Newsome says she's grateful that FedEx and Operation Warm called her "out of the blue" to set up the big event.

"This is a wonderful, special place. It's an awesome community," said Newsome, who has led the school since it opened 13 years ago. "The fact that our kids are so diverse, and they bring all the rich culture to our school, it's amazing."

Another student, fifth-grader Saane, is looking forward to putting her new digs to good use.

"I take the bus to school, and my mom's like I can't take the bus without a jacket," she said. TRIBUNE PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Students at Rosa Parks Elementary in Portland pick up free coats with the help of FedEx volunteers during Operation Warm on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

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