Chillicothe Firefighters Donate Coats to Local School Children
January 10, 2014

CAPTION: Chillicothe firefighters donated more than 30 coats to local school children Friday. Chillicothe School guidance counselor Ellen Tsikoyak (holding coat) picked up the coats from the fire station to deliver to children in the Chillicothe R-2 School District.

C-T Photo / Calli Price

On Friday, Jan. 10, the Chillicothe Fire Fighters Local 2460 provided brand-new winter coats to over 30 school children in partnership with Operation Warm, a national non-profit organization dedicated to warming the hearts, minds and bodies of children in need. This is the first year Chillicothe firefighters have reached out with warmth to the smallest citizens they protect. They plan to make this outreach annual, creating a lasting impact in the community they serve. Firefighters across the country are stepping up to collaborate with Operation Warm creating a new local program: Firefighters Coats for Kids, a movement led by professional firefighters to combat the effects of childhood poverty.

"In the extended Kansas City metro area, which includes Chillicothe, poverty rates among children are well above 30 percent," said Donnie Rogers, president of Chillicothe Fire Fighters Local 2460. "On the job, firefighters witness the sad truth behind those numbers and we are committed to serving these kids beyond the 911 call."

The Chillicothe firefighters worked closely with Chillicothe School guidance counselor Ellen Tsikoyak and others to identify children in desperate need of coats. They will be on-site to surprise the children with the new coats. The joy and sense of self-value that new coat may bring to a child in need is a core part of both Operation Warm and the firefighters' joint mission. Firefighters will personally fit each child with their new coat, helping them to select their favorite color and to write their name in the interior tag, which reads, "Made Especially For You."

The coats, made specifically for this nation-wide program, are mostly American-made. "This is so much more than a coat," Rogers said. "Beyond warmth and dignity for children, American coat production targets a root cause of poverty for so many families."

In year one of Operation Warm's American manufacturing, firefighters will provide 30,000 children with American-made winter coats, and this program supported over 200 jobs for Americans. The new coat celebration is the culmination of a community-based fundraising campaign led by the Missouri State Council of Firefighters to warm the hearts of local children. The Missouri State Council of Firefighters fundraise year-round to support this endeavor among the many other charities they elect to support.

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