More than 400 children in the Francis Howell School District will be warm this winter thanks to the efforts of the Cottleville Firefighters Outreach’s Operation Warm program – a nonprofit focused on ensuring kids have a winter coat, helping to improve school attendance and overall wellness.
“We love doing this because we want to help our community and we love to see the smiles on kids’ faces when they get a new coat and they know they’re going to be warm this year,” Cottleville Firefighters Outreach Executive Director Garrett Ryan said. “We love giving them someone to look up to, and know that there are people out there that are trying to help them and will always be looking out for them.”
Francis Howell School District teachers and counselors helped identify the students in need, who were then able to pick out a warm, colorful coat of their choice. Firefighters made sure every coat fit every child perfectly and wrote the students’ names on each coat’s “made just for you” tag.
Students were excited not only to receive a new coat, but also to meet local firefighters. One fourth-grader said, “It makes me happy because they’re being really nice and taking time out of their day to give us coats.”
Cottleville Firefighters Outreach holds a variety of fundraisers throughout the year to raise funds for this program. This year, they raised about $8,000 to purchase coats for kids in need.