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Fire crews in Girard give coats to 79 kids

GIRARD — Girard firefighters have reached their goal of providing 79 kids with new winter coats this year.

In past years, Girard Firefighters Local 1220 has collected money for the Girard City School’s “Gift of a Lifetime” program and, this year, the firefighters switched it up to collect for Operation Warm.

According to the fire department, nearly 1 of 3 school-age children in Girard lives in poverty. The department said that every child, regardless of economic status, deserves a warm coat because “a coat offers a child physical and emotional warmth, confidence to socialize and succeed, and hope of a brighter future.”

“It’s our fifth year fundraising, but this is our first year doing Operation Warm,” said Brian Pearson, union secretary treasurer. “Our goal was to raise $3,000 and help as many kids as possible. Over the past four years, we’ve raised $8,500 and helped about 65 kids.”

The campaign ended Nov. 23 and the firefighters surpassed their goal with $4,403.50.

Emmanuel Community Care Center collected the names of Girard children who are in need. The center helps households that are considered in poverty.

“You’d have to see what the coats mean to the kids. A lot of them have never had the chance to have a new one, and it’s priceless to see how excited they are,” said Sister Jean Orsuto, director of the Emmanuel Community Care Center. “It’s an amazing thing the firefighters are doing, they do so much good in the community already, and for them to give back to the kids, it just shows how dedicated they are to their community.”

According to Operation Warm’s founder, Dick Sanford, a new coat isn’t just about providing physical warmth; a new coat also provides emotional warmth, confidence and hope. Operation Warm manufactures the new, high-quality coats, which are expected to arrive in about two weeks.

Operation Warm is the International Association of Firefighters fundraiser and next year, Girard’s firefighters said they hope to begin this campaign around September.

bshiller@tribtoday.com