Local firefighters giving the gift of warmth

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WDTV)-- For the fourth year, members of the Morgantown Firefighters IAFF Local 313 partnered with Operation Warm.

The program gives children in need brand new winter clothes.

"We have a lot of lower income families that can't provide simple things like a coat," said Derek Porter, the Operation Warm Coordinator for the Morgantown Firefighters IAFF Local 313.

With poverty levels rising, the program helps alleviate the stress parents may have giving their children a way to stay warm.

"It's one of those things that we really don't think about every year, but they don't fit in the same coat that they had last winter. They're constantly growing, so to be able to take this worry and the stress off of our families is a tremendous way that we can help," said Anna Simmons, Counselor at Eastwood Elementary.

This year, the program will be going to six elementary schools, more than in previous years.

With the left over coats they will distribute them to the remaining schools. Today, students from Eastwood Elementary and Ridgedale Elementary left school with excitement and eagerness to wear their new coat.

"It's my favorite color," said student Michael Barkewich.

"[I'll] take it school every day and wear it," said student, Brody Savage.

"It;s kind of big for me, but he said that it'll be perfect because it'll take me a couple years [to grow into]," said another student, Brigitte Morel.

"I'm going to wear it in the winter," said student, Aubrey Areford.

Local firefighters fit each child by telling them to raise their arms and hug themselves making sure they will be able to wear the coat now and for the next couple of years.

"A few weeks ago they came and they sized all of our students that they were able to buy coats for," said Simmons.

The tags in the coat said "Made Just for You," and they even got to personalize their coat by writing in their names.

"We personalize it and write their name in it. It's kind of a big deal to them, a lot of them really enjoy it," said Porter.

The firefighters say this is something they're honored to do.

"An ounce of prevention goes a long way. It's better for us to prevent an emergency from happening, a cold injury or something in the winter time, and provide them with a coat than having to respond to a call," said Porter.

The firefighters will be at Mason-Dixon Elementary at 9:30 a.m. and Suncrest Primary at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

They will also be at Mountainview Elementary at 9:30 a.m. and North Elementary at 1 p.m. on Friday.