On three different dates in late October and early November, firefighters from the Cottleville Fire Protection District delivered brand new coats to 10 different Francis Howell elementary schools for kids in need.
The delivery of the coats represents the culmination of a new community project, undertaken by Cottleville Firefighters Outreach, a 501[c]3 nonprofit organization developed by Cottleville firefighters as an additional means of serving families. All of the money raised by Cottleville Firefighters Outreach over two nights at its annual Haunted Trail fundraiser was used to make the $14,000 purchase of 456 new American-made coats for the children.
The coats were purchased from a nonprofit organization called Operation Warm, which focuses on bringing new winter coats to children who need them.
When Cottleville firefighters presented this idea to the Francis Howell School District, administrators were very excited. Deanna Kruse, who works in the district’s student services department, knows firsthand how many families in the area lack the resources to provide new coats for their kids every year.
“Operation Warm will ensure that nearly 500 students will be warm this winter. We are extremely thankful for the partnership with Cottleville Firefighters Outreach,” Kruse said.
Principals, teachers and administrators from local elementary schools worked together with Cottleville Firefighters Outreach to schedule the delivery of all coats to the kids while at school. The firefighters helped the kids pick their coats, ensure proper fit and write their names on the inside of the coats.
After assisting with deliveries, Firefighter Garrett Ryan, who spearheaded the project, said, “We knew we were doing something special by purchasing these coats, but I cannot fully express how moved we all were by having the interaction with the kids. Seeing all of the kids smile, getting so many hugs and high fives was something that we didn’t really think about ahead of time; but it turned out to be an incredibly rewarding experience.”