SPFD Still Taking Donations for Kids Coats
Stevens Point firefighters raising funds to buy 250+ winter coats for kids |
By Brandi Makuski
For the third consecutive year, Stevens Point firefighters are working to keep kids warm over the winter.
Last year, the firefighters raised just enough funds to purchase about 160 coats for local kids in need through Coats for Kids’ Operation Warm program.
This year, the need is even greater.
“The first year we did this, we bought 80-some coats,” said Firefighter Matt Zander. “Last year, that doubled, so we need to raise enough money for at least 250 coats this year.”
Zander said the firefighter’s association, Local 484, will match every donation that comes in from the public, dollar-for-dollar.
For the first time the program has been expanded to include local parochial schools, Zander said — something that wasn’t possible before because firefighters couldn’t be sure how successful their fundraising efforts would be.
Last year, firefighters were about $40 short of their goal, but filled that gap by passing a hat at the Stevens Point Fire Department.
The department presses on because it’s a genuine need, Zander said, and works with local schools to discretely identify students who would benefit from the program. The coats cost $34 each, and should be delivered to the SPFD sometime in November, when firefighters will deliver each coat to the kids in person.
While a fire engine’s arrival at a local school is never really a secret, firefighters ensure each coat fits a corresponding child properly from a private room in each school’s office.
“Some of the kids are really excited, but most are a little scared, a little nervous, when they see us in uniform,” Zander said. “But the neat thing is, a lot of them will leave and they haven’t said a word to you, then a teacher comes in and says they ran screaming down the hallway because they were so excited to have a new coat.”
The department is well-known for its fundraising efforts throughout the area. Each August, the department solicits donations to benefit the Muscular Dystrohpy Association, and exceeds their goal every year. During the month of October, the department is also donning pink, and selling pink t-shirts to help benefit local breast cancer awareness and research.
“It makes you feel good to help out the community,” Zander said. “I mean, it’s just a coat, but a lot of these kids either don’t have a coat, or they’ve only had hand-me-downs. There’s something about getting a brand new coat with tags still on it that makes the kids feel special.”
To donate, go to the Stevens Point firefighters website, their Facebook page or stop by Station No. 1 at 1701 Franklin Street.