Operation Warm gets students equipped for winter

By Joe Harris

With winter’s cold breath right around the corner, members of the Lincoln Firefighters Association donated 500 coats to kids at Everett Elementary School Wednesday, and another 500 to Huntington Elementary Thursday.

Every child received a new coat, stocking cap and gloves as part of the 4th Annual Operation Warm program

"It’s just a good way to get the cold winter months started, being equipped with good, warm coats and hats and gloves," said Huntington Principal Rik Devney.

Devney said it’s good to see his students fashioned with the sufficient coats that many of them don’t have.

"They’ll come to school without a coat, or they’ll come to school with a sweatshirt," Devney said.  "They come with things that are less than adequate just to get to school."

The firefighters union said they donate the coats to the schools that have the highest percentage of students enrolled in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

"We feel there’s a real need for the coats here," said union member Jason Love.  "We’ve had the principal tell us numerous times that the kids have been asking for the coats, the temperature is changing."

The program has grown every year.  They bought 50 winter coats in 2014.  This year, they were able to buy 20 times more than that.

They buy coats from the Southeast Kentucky Rehabilitation Industries, who mostly employs Americans with disabilities to teach them job skills.

"We’re a labor organization," Love said.  "We support labor in America and whenever we can give back to fellow Americans to help them create or maintain their jobs, that’s what we’re going to do."

The firefighters union said they hope to increase the total number of coats they purchase by a couple hundred for next year’s Operation Warm.