In cooperation with the Vancouver Fire Department and a handful of private donors and local businesses, members of Local 452 of the International Association of Fire Fighters distributed winter coats to elementary school children. Marshall Friday morning.
This winter marks firefighter Kady Bieber’s fourth year as the head of Operation Warm – the joint project that gives winter clothes to young children in Clark County in various locations between now and the Christmas season. Bieber and others involved in the project donated more than 300 coats last year.
“If you stay here and watch these kids get these coats, some of them are crying, some of them are dizzy, some of them are nervous or shy,” Bieber said. “Just looking at their faces and their reactions says a lot. It means a lot. “
As groups of students lined up to find the coats they liked the most, other firefighters took groups of students from other classes around a fire truck. The kids also got the chance to meet a local Santa, who kindly asked them if there was anything else they were hoping for before the holiday season.
“It’s always a shock how many kids don’t have coats, and it’s really cold in here, even today,” said Trent Best, a first-time volunteer who attended the organization of the event.
Kerry Furimsky, a Farmers insurance agent in Vancouver, hosted a GoFundMe to continue to collect donations from the public to buy more coats throughout the winter. Furimsky was introduced to Bieber and Operation Warm in 2020, when the group contacted local business owners, as the COVID-19 pandemic made it harder to get support for the event. As an insurance agent, his relationships with many local business owners contributed to the success of the project.
“There’s just a need here in Clark County for some basic stuff, especially since last year and the financial hardships families have had with COVID,” Furimsky said. “For Christmas I wanted to get involved in something and find a way to help my community, and it was presented to me and it felt really perfect.”
Furimsky GoFundMe raised $ 500 at the start of donation season and hopes to receive even more support as efforts continue over the coming weeks. In addition to the money, they are also open to receiving new or lightly used coats.
Donations can also be made at any of four drop-off locations across the county: Brake Zone in Vancouver, Flow Hot Yoga in Vancouver, Furimsky Insurance Agency in Vancouver, and NW Nut in Ridgefield.