When a first grader at Rainier View Elementary slipped into her new pink and teal winter coat, she asked one simple question: “Do I get to keep this?”
South King Fire and Rescue recently hosted Operation Warm, in collaboration with Federal Way Public Schools, to provide winter jackets to all kindergartners and first graders at Rainier View Elementary School on Oct. 21.
Operation Warm is sponsored by the South King Firefighters Foundation in partnership with the Legacy Des Moines Fire Department Aid Fund and IAFF Local 2024’s Benevolent Fund.
“We have partnered together to purchase enough coats for the entire kindergarten and first grade … which equates to just over 170 jackets,” said Lt. Brad Chaney, public information officer for SKFR.
This year is the seventh annual Operation Warm event for South King, and also marks the department’s milestone of donating more than 1,000 winter jackets to kids throughout Federal Way and Des Moines, Chaney said. To date, the department has donated approximately 1,070 coats.
“[The kids] are a little hesitant at first but once you put that jacket on them, they just turn into a whole other person,” he said. “You can see the warmth and the security and the comfort that a jacket brings to a child. It really brings out the best in them.”
A dozen South King employees spent their Monday morning helping students find the perfect fit of their new coat, giving high-fives, and seeing firsthand the difference one jacket can make.
Smiles spread throughout the room where colorful winter jackets were stacked high, waiting for new owners. Some kids were “hugging their coats like a teddy bear,” said one South King member.
“We appreciate South King Fire and Rescue for bringing Operation Warm to our students again this year and supporting Goal 2 The Whole Child,” shared FWPS Superintendent Dr. Tammy Campbell. “Students get a coat and so much more – a chance to meet local firefighters, Sparky the [fire] dog and check out a fire truck.”
Once the right size was found and the student’s name was written on the inside of the coat, kids had a chance to hang out with Sparky the Fire Dog and explore one of South King’s fire trucks.
Zipping up his new red and gray jacket, a Rainier View elementary student said, “This is my favorite jacket I’ve ever had.”