BOISE -- Firefighters with Boise Fire's Local 149 were met with excitement Thursday as they handed out brightly-colored coats to children across the Boise School District.
The coat giveaway is part of the "Operation Warm" program, which is aimed at making sure elementary-age children have a coat to wear as winter weather rolls in. Firefighters gave out 300 coats at Taft, Whittier, Whitney, Jefferson, Hawthorne, Valley View, Lowell, Koelsch, Horizon, and Maple Grove elementary schools.
"These are all brand-new, American-made coats that we purchased and are given out to kids here in the school district," Senior Firefighter and paramedic Matthew Lutz said.
School received about 20-50 coats apiece, depending on the need at each elementary. Lutz said some of the coats were given directly to children Thursday, while others were handed over to school counselors to give out over the winter as need arises.
Since fundraising started in May, Boise Fire has raised $9,300 to purchase the coats. Firefighters raised the money through the department's annual pumpkin patch, as well as sales of the 2018 Boise Fire Fighters Local 149 Calendar, and the first-ever Boise Fire Fighter Fashion Show.
Lutz said the program was a way for the Local 149 firefighters to give back to the community they serve. The firefighters - who posed for photos with the children and helped them try on their new coats Thursday - enjoy the giveaway as much as the students do, he added.
"As a firefighter, we respond to a lot of emergencies and a lot of people's tragedies, and this is one of the things we get to do, to make sure that when we do it, we get to see smiles at the end of the event," Lutz said.
For more information on Operation Warm, click here.