Coats of many colors just in time for the cold
RED LAKE--Giggles and laughter were heard coming from brightly colored puffs of energy bopping around on the chilly playground Thursday afternoon at Red Lake Early Childhood Education. Inside each puff was a kindergarten student who received a ne...
RED LAKE-Giggles and laughter were heard coming from brightly colored puffs of energy bopping around on the chilly playground Thursday afternoon at Red Lake Early Childhood Education. Inside each puff was a kindergarten student who received a new winter coat.
The coats were brought Thursday morning to Red Lake as part of Operation Warm's Coats for Kids program. Fundraising done by the Minneapolis Fire Department made the donation of 210 coats possible.
Firefighter Adam Graves is the department's outreach program director who arranged the visit to Red Lake. Graves, a 10-year veteran with MFD, is from Red Lake but grew up in Minneapolis.
"My parents have always done volunteering, and now that I can, I like to give back," Graves said. "It's kind of nice that I'm from here because it helps get us in the door."
Graves said it was important to the department to partner with an organization that provides an American made product. The company that makes Operation Warm coats is based in Philadelphia. Coats cost between $35 and $40, and come in sizes 4-18.
Early Childhood Education Principal Susan Ninham said each student was assigned a coat. There are 120 kindergartners and 45 preschoolers attending the school.
"This is really a generous gift," Ninham said. "We're very appreciative they are able to do this for the kids."
Four Minneapolis firefighters on Thursday morning brought the coats up to Red Lake. Red Lake and Boise Forte band members were among the visiting firefighters. On Thursday afternoon, the crew headed up to Ponemah to finish delivering coats.
"We try to instill that leadership is by example and not just a title that goes with it," Graves said. "These guys are young but you can see the self-esteem level they get. When they put a coat on they're all smiling."
Since the students are younger, they aren't preoccupied with name brands or that they all have a similar coat. Ninham said the students learned about fire safety and are learning matching now so it's fun for them to see each other wearing different or same colors.
"I think it's perfect timing," said kindergarten teacher Angie Piprude. "They really like getting the coats and it's nice to see the kids wearing them all winter long."
Graves said in Minneapolis low-income schools and those with a high percentage of Native students are selected for Coats for Kids and the program is expanding next year.