HAGERSTOWN, Md. (DC News Now) — To some, a coat might be just that — but to others, a coat is something that can provide confidence as well as warmth.
The Hagerstown Professional Firefighters showed up to donate new coats to the students of Bester Elementary on Thursday.
“Over a decade ago, they were looking for ways that we could give back to our community and this is one way that we can see an impact every day,” Program Coordinator Allen Carpenter said.
This marks 11 years of “Operation Warm” where 176 coats are donated to a Title One school. For Bester Elementary, where most students walk to school, a good coat is essential.
“There is no bus and so in all kinds of weather no matter what you still need to come to school and due to our poverty level, it’s really hard to make sure everybody has what they need,” Title One School Family Liaison, B.J. Lushbaugh explained.
But firefighters do more than give away coats.
“One of the key things that we do with Operation Warm is we put the child’s name inside the code in a permanent marker. That way, it’s that child’s coat and that they have something that is theirs and builds their self-esteem,” Carpenter said.
“There were so many options to choose from, I just wanted to choose them all,” fifth-grade student Dezmone Pell said.
Out of the 460 students, about 50 percent of the students come from families that live in poverty. Operation Warm helps parents have one less thing to worry about before the colder months arrive.
“We have been working hard this year, especially with our community schools programs to bring in more families and work more together as one big family,” Lushbaugh said.
Over the last 11 years, Operation Warm has put over 2,000 coats on children around the county.