Ocean City Today

IAFF fundraises to buy winter jackets for 60 kids in need

By Katie Tabeling | Oct 26, 2017
Courtesy of: Ryan Whittington Firefighter/Paramedic Mark Lloyd helps a kindergartener write her name in her new coat, which was donated through the proceeds of the fire union’s Operation Warm.

(Oct. 27, 2017) The local firefighter/paramedic union is rallying to raise roughly $2,000 to provide children in need new winter coats before winter arrives in Worcester County.

Chapter 4269 of the International Association of Fire Fighters has joined the national nonprofit Operation Warm for the last four years deliver coats to students at elementary schools across the county. This year, IAFF President Ryan Whittington hopes that they can raise enough money to buy 60 coats.

“We’re out in the schools teaching the kids about fire prevention, and we often see them out in the community, and hearing that some of them can’t afford a nice winter coat is hard to swallow,” he said. “I always had a coat when I was younger, and I can’t imagine waiting for the bus in the winter without it.”

Roughly 30 percent of Worcester County residents earn more than the federal poverty level, but less than the cost of living, according to United Way’s ALICE report. A family, defined in the report as  two adults, one toddler and a preschooler, would need to work an hourly wage of $25.51 just to afford food, housing, transportation, healthcare and childcare.

The IAFF hopes to take care of some family’s needs through this fundraiser, by personally fitting each child with a new coat.

Before the fire union kicks off its annual Operation Warm fundraiser, it coordinates with the Worcester County School District to identify children in need.

“Sometimes the need is 15 coats; other times it’s much more,” Whittington said. “We typically host fundraisers throughout the summer to raise money at the Greene Turtle and Fish Tales to try and reach our goal. Our firefighters and paramedics also pay out of pocket.”

So far, the fire union has garnered $475.75 of its $2,000 goal, and Whittington hopes resort residents can pitch in. Each $34 donation made will provide a local child with a new coat.

“The goal of our firefighters participating is to provide a winter coat to children,” Whittington said. “[That will] help improve self-confidence, peer acceptance, school attendance and overall wellness.”

To help the Ocean City fire union reach its fundraising goal, contributors can donate at www.operationwarm.org/oceancity.  In the comments/notes section, apply the code Ocean City Firefighters to ensure the donation stays in the Ocean City community.

Checks can also be mailed to Ocean City Operation Warm, PO BOX 3217, Ocean City, Maryland 21843. Make checks payable to Operation Warm.

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