Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Warm Feeling

Barth students in Mrs. Wolfel's and Mrs. Blute's classes get an unexpected gift from a generous parent.

When Barth Elementary School parent Melissa Caballero found out about students who come to school cold, she decided she needed to do something about it.

According to school principal Ryan Oxenford, she organized "Operation Keep Me Warm for the Holiday" for two classes at Barth. 

She coordinated efforts using Facebook and was able to provide each student in those classes with a bundled package consisting of a hat, scarf, blanket, book, stuffed animal, and gloves or mittens. 

The students were extremely excited by this surprise gesture. 

"This idea was brewing in my head after going to a PTO meeting," Caballero told Oxenford. 

"We were talking about taking up donations for hats and gloves. And who we should donate them too. After the meeting I was talking to a teacher. She told me that for years children would come to school cold and ask if there were any hats and gloves that they could have. This made my decision final. I had to do something," Cabbalero said. 

"I sat down and talked to my husband about this and he was super supportive of my idea. And I knew that I could not just give them hats and gloves. I wanted to give more. So we thought and thought what else. Then that is how I came up with 'Keep Me Warm for The Holiday' name." 

"What else would keep them warm? Heads , hands, how about their brains (a book). How about their hearts( a teddy bear and blanket to cuddle) also went with it would be a snack bag with hot chocolate," she said.

She got an outpouring of support in this effort.

"I knew I was not financially table to pull off this idea alone. So I facebooked my friends and family," she explained.

"Each of us bought items here and there when we could. We pulled it off in three weeks; 80 children from three different schools."

And why would anyone undertake such a project during the holiday season? Precisely because it is the holiday season.  

"Pottstown is my home town. And I am willing to try to do whatever I can to make a difference in our town, our children's lives," Caballero said. 

"They are our future. I want to show them that no matter how tough life gets. There are ways to work them out. That WE Pottstown stick together we can make a difference to make our town the best place to be," she said. 

Is this the beginning of a new tradition? It could be...

"I hope I can do another project like this next year. I have a lot of my friends and family who are willing to help me again. I can't thank my husband, family and friends enough for their help and support," Caballero said.
Both Caballero and her husband, Alex, are graduates of Pottstown Schools and they have four children; Alex Jr., 13, who attends Pottstown Middle School, Mia, 8 and Jade, 5, both of whom attend Barth and Ethan, 3, who is a future Pottstown student.

Mia is in Kelli Wolfel's class and Jade has Colleen Blute.

"The kids were super surprised and super excited by the generosity of Operation Keep Me Warm," Wolfel said! "They looked great in their new hats and gloves reading their new books."

"Operation "Keep Me Warm For the Holidays" was an incredible undertaking by one person," Blute said. "She, along with other community partners, demonstrated to the children how important it is in this day and age to understand the true meaning of Christmas. The excitement on the faces of each and every child made the message clear to every person present."

As for Oxenford? He said simply, "I continue to be amazed by the spirit of people."

You're right about that Mr. Oxenford.


  1. If any of the kids need snow boots or shoes (warm FEET) either now or for your program next year please let us know. Holly and Ron Miller, In Ian's Boo.ts, 610-970-8820 (www,

    1. Thank you so much will do.
      Melissa Caballero