POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Pocatello firefighters are giving out more than 300 new coats to children this year.
This is the sixth year that the community has come together to provide new, warm coats to kids in need.
“This year is our biggest year. We’ve raised money to purchase over 320 coats this year,” said Jason Whitcomb, a driver with the Pocatello Fire Department.
Firefighters gathered at the Lincoln Head Start elementary school on Tuesday to fit kids into their new coats.
Union members helped students write their name on the inside tag which reads, “Made Just for You.”
About 100 coats were donated to students at Lincoln Head Start and the rest will be distributed to students in School District 25.
“Nearly 20% of local children live in poverty and a warm coat is an essential item during Idaho winters,” Whitcomb said. “Every child, regardless of their economic situation, deserves a brand new coat."
The Pocatello firefighters work with school resource officers to identify underprivileged children who need the coats.
“The coats are new, they’re high quality. That’s one of the best things about this is we’ll see kids wearing these throughout the year and we’ll also see kids wearing coats from last year," Whitcomb said.
"It’s nice to have us be able to keep the money in the community and provide a product that will get used for a long time," Whitcomb said.
Donations came from the firefighters' union, IAFF Local 187, the Portneuf Medical Center Auxiliary, Sugarbugs Dental and other community members and organizations.
"Pocatello firefighters believe a brand new coat is more than a coat, and offers a child physical and emotional warmth, confidence to socialize and succeed, and hope of a brighter future," Whitcomb said.
Local 187 is working with Operation Warm, a national nonprofit that manufacturers brand new, high-quality coats and partners with community organizations to give them away to children in need.