The “Operation Noel” coats that keep 25,000 kids in the Borderland warm are coming with a hefty price tag this year amid the trade war. The coats arrived in El Paso this week, but their shipping came after September tariffs went into place.
The coats are made in China, and that usually keeps costs down, but last year the coats came with an $18,000 tariff bill attached. This year, as President Trump’s trade war ramps up, the coats were $50,000 more expensive, making it a $32,000 difference.
“We never have enough money to pay for the coats at the beginning of the year. We usually have enough leftover from the previous year to provide a deposit,” said Mayor Dee Margo, who chairs “Operation Noel.”
Margo said it will all depend on fundraising like the ABC-7 “Operation Noel” Telethon to make up the difference and pay off the coats.
The problem, Margo said, is that the surplus from one year is usually used to pay the deposit for the next year’s order. With the new tariff bill Margo said it’s unclear if enough money will be left over to kickstart 2020.
It’s going to take work to manage the uncertain trade and making sure warm coats can still be distributed to those 25,000 children.
“We may have to look for another supplier, we may have to move away from China, which I think is a given. We looked around this year to try to move, and we couldn’t find a supplier that was anywhere near what we were paying for these coats,” Margo said.
The ABC-7 “Operation Noel” Telethon will take place on Dec. 5, one week after Thanksgiving.
You can donate to Operation Noel now by clicking on this link: https://www.operationnoel.org/product/make-a-donation/