Vancouver firefighters seek donations for annual winter coat drive

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Fire Department and Vancouver Firefighters Union kicked off their annual winter coat drive today, Thu., Dec. 1. Donations will be accepted through Fri., Dec. 16.

Firefighters have partnered with the 45th Columbia River Scouts, America’s Self Storage and The Source Climbing Gym to collect and distribute the donated coats to local children and adults through several charitable organizations.

“We are specifically seeking donations of warm, winter coats in youth and teen sizes, but all sizes are appreciated,” said Vancouver Firefighter Ben Burtle, who is coordinating the drive.

Vancouver Firefighters at Vancouver Fire Station 2 for winter coat drive and Operation Warm
Vancouver Firefighter Kevin Hart (left) and and Vancouver Firefighter-Paramedic Jamie Richards (right) stand next to a growing pile of donated new and/or gently worm winter coats being collected at the Vancouver Fire Station 2, at 400 E. 37th St., Vancouver, on Thu., Dec. 1. Photo by Kelly Moyer

In addition to winter coats, Vancouver firefighters are requesting donations of new, unopened personal hygiene products, such as shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Donations can be dropped off at the following locations Dec. 1-16:

Vancouver Fire Station 2
400 E. 37th St. (corner of Main Street)

The Source Climbing Gym
1118 Main St.

America’s Self Storage
108 NW 139th St.

Dax Tucker, on-site manager at America’s Self Storage, said his company has participated in the annual fire department winter coat drive for at least eight years, and that the America’s Self Storage drop-off site has an indoor collection box, available during business hours — 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays — as well as a 24-7 outdoor drop box, located underneath an awning in front of the business.

Firefighters union kicks off annual ‘Operation Warm’ event to fit local children in need with new, made-in-America winter coats

Firefighters working at the Vancouver Fire Station 2 on the first day of the winter coat drive said they’d already collected enough new or gently used coats for one pick-up within the first few hours and were eager to see more come in throughout the two-week drop-off period.

The winter coat drive is separate from the Vancouver Firefighters Union’s Operation Warm, which provides brand new coats to children in need. In previous years, the local firefighters union has sponsored an Operation Warm event at one Vancouver school, but this year the union doubled its efforts and will sponsor two schools, said Vancouver Firefighter-Paramedic Jamie Richards.

A national program that began in 2012, Operation Warm has connected firefighters throughout the United States with children in their areas who are living in poverty by helping distribute 200,000 new coats in more than 300 cities. The Vancouver Firefighters IAFF Local 452, through Operation Warm, fits local children in need for a new coat and then purchases made-in-America winter coats that are sized perfectly for each child. The gift of a brand new winter coat, the firefighters say on their website, “provides not only warmth to children, but helps to improve self-confidence, peer acceptance, school attendance and outdoor play.”

To donate money to the Vancouver Firefighters IAFF Local 452 union’s Operation Warm efforts, sponsored by Firefighters Care, visit www.iaff452.org or email dave@iaff452.org.

“Each donation brings us one step closer to reaching our goal of bringing happiness and warmth to every child living in need in the Vancouver area,” the firefighters union says.

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About The Author

Kelly Moyer has been reporting for community newspapers since the mid-1990s, including the Newport News-Times on the Oregon Coast; the Lewistown Sentinel, a daily newspaper in central Pennsylvania; the Gresham Outlook, Wilsonville Spokesman, Sherwood Gazette and South County Spotlight newspapers in the Portland metro area; and The Reflector newspaper in Battle Ground, Wash. She also is the former managing editor of Midwifery Today, an international magazine for birth professionals. Kelly, a University of Oregon alumnus and Pennsylvania native, lives with her family in Northeast Portland.

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