KALISPELL - The Kalispell Fire Department has teamed up with Operation Warm, a national non-profit that provides new winter coats for kids in need across the country.
Each department that participates raises the money for coats in their own unique way.
“The 3-on-3 tournament, that’s our big fundraiser with kind of the point being is we put on a big fundraiser and with the registration money. So pretty much coming from people who can afford to play in basketball and we take the registration money and we buy brand new coats to kids in need who maybe aren’t quite as fortunate,” said Mike Chappius with the Kalispell Fire Department.
The basketball tournament is held in August and the coats are given away in October just before the weather starts to get colder.
The firefighters go to schools around the valley and personally fit each student with a new coat and help them write their name on it. The coats are given to kids ages three-to-11 and whose families are at or below 150% of the federal poverty line.
The program not only helps keeps the kids warm but allows their families to stretch limited financial resources to other necessities like food or shelter.
Chappius says he feels it is important to give back to the community when you are in a more fortunate situation and have the means to help out.
“I feel pretty fortunate to have a roof over my head, I have food on the table, I have a stable job and it means a lot to all the firefighters to be able to give back a little bit to the community. Even though it’s a small thing a brand-new coat makes us feel pretty good.”
Statistics show that approximately 17 million children across the nation are living in poverty. Operation Warm has served over two million kids since 2002.