Londonderry firefighters on mission to make sure children won’t be cold

Union Leader Correspondent
August 29. 2014 6:50PM

LONDONDERRY — Local firefighters are doing their part to make sure some of the area’s neediest children stay warm this winter.

Earlier this week, members of the Professional Firefighters of Londonderry - Local 3160 joined forces with Operation Warm, a statewide Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire (PFFNH) initiative providing winter coats to children in need.

Bo Butler, president of the Londonderry firefighters’ union, said the plan is to buy and distribute at least 100 new winter coats in time for the winter season.

“One of the most fundamental hardships of childhood poverty is the absence of a warm, winter coat,” Butler said this week. “But the citizens of Londonderry will no doubt rise to the occasion and help our children who are desperately in need.”

According to PFFNH president David Lang, more 42,880 Granite State children are living low-income lives.

Program officials noted that all of the coats provided through Operation Warm are American made and are bought new.

“For kids who have grown up with nothing, a new coat can mean the world,” Butler said. “Beyond warmth, it represents dignity and pride.”

The Operation Warm program began in 2002. These days, the program distributes coats in 49 states, donating about 300,000 coats annually, according to the organization’s website.

About two years ago, program officials began providing only American made coats in their effort to create more jobs on the home front.

Working with area businesses, Londonderry firefighters are seeking children in need based on “indicators that their families are hovering at the federal poverty guidelines.”

Butler said the coats would be distributed this fall during a series of special events.

“The firefighters and volunteers can then interact with these children and witness their unforgettable reactions,” he said.

Other fire departments in the area, including the Windham Fire Department, are sharing in the mission.

Fire Chief Tom McPherson said community members can make donations to Operation Warm via the town website.

McPherson said each coat costs about $34.

“It’s a great way to help kids in need, right in your own community,” he said.

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