Tuesday , December 16, 2014 - 2:16 PM
OGDEN — A heat wave of happy kids hit Dee Elementary as firefighters and others handed out 53 brand-new coats on Monday in less than 20 minutes.
Third-grader Tommy Martinez could not hide the pleasure from his face after finding an orange coat that fit him.
“My coat has a big hole in the back so when I walk to school the cold hits my shirt,” Tommy said.
Tommy said he tore his old coat when he fell from his long board.
Tommy said, with a smile, he now will stay warm while long boarding, playing soccer, and “helping others do stuff in their yards. I like to rake leaves, mow lawns, water, pull weeds. Really, I do.”
Several Ogden firefighters joined officials from the Professional Fire Fighters of Utah Association and CentiMark Roofing and Flooring at the school.
A second-grade and a third-grade class were selected to receive the coats.
Operation Warm was started back East about 10 years ago by a man who collected and bought coats to give to children, said Ogden Fire Capt. Targee Williams.
The International Association Fire Fighters team agreed to take up the project as long as all coats were made in the U.S., Williams said.
“That way it keeps Americans at work,” Williams said.
Utah’s firefighters have donated coats to three schools this year with a school in West Valley receiving 240 coats. In January of this year, firefighters handed out 360 new coats to students at Heritage Elementary School in Ogden.
CentiMark Roofing and Flooring donated $1,000 to the project which bought 29 of the 53 coats that were donated to Dee Elementary, said Dustin Kresser, who is with CentiMark Roofing and Flooring.
Not only did firefighters help the kids pick out coats, they also made sure the coats fit and then wrote the child’s name on an inside label of the coat.
Dee Elementary Principal Beverly Jenson said faculty and staff at her Title 1 school worry when they see children walking to school without a coat.
“The biggest thing is to make sure they are warm walking to school, at recess and walking home,” Jenson said.
Jenson said they try to identify which students need a coat and have a few that have been donated to give to students, but it is not always enough.
“If they are warm and dry, then they are ready to learn,” Jenson said.
But for two second-graders, Nancy Montoya and Mariela Zendejas, they were just excited to get matching mint-colored coats.
Best friends since kindergarten, when Mariela put on a mint-colored coat, Nancy, who had a bright green coat on, asked if she could have the coat that matched her best friend’s.
“It makes us happy,” Nancy said about having matching coats.
Contact reporter Loretta Park at 801-625-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @LorettaParkSE. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SELorettaPark.
Sign up for e-mail news updates.