Massena Permanent Firefighters seeking donations for winter coats

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MASSENA — For the second consecutive year, members of Massena Permanent Firefighters, IAFF Local 2220 are raising money to provide warm coats for children.

They’re participating in Operation Warm, a national nonprofit effort which partnered with the International Association of Fire Fighters in 2012.

“Right here in St. Lawrence County, 1 in 4 children are living in poverty,” organizer Justin Niles said. “By partnering with Operation Warm, a national nonprofit, we’re committed to providing brand-new winter coats to economically disadvantaged children living in Massena. This year, our goal is to provide a new coat to each student attending the Massena Headstart program, where 100 percent of students are enrolled in the Free or Reduced Lunch program.”

Mr. Niles, a member of Massena Permanent Firefighters, IAFF Local 2220, said they hope to raise enough money to purchase 100 American-made winter coats — 89 for the children in the Massena Headstart program and the remainder for local charities that are in need of them. The cost would be $3,400.

“We are accepting any donation level, and the donations can be completely written off on business and personal taxes,” he said. “We are planning on distributing the coats before the children are released for Christmas vacation. Any leftover coats will be passed on to the other local charities after the Headstart distribution.”

As they would say on television, but wait, there’s more! For the third consecutive year, anyone who contributes until 11:59 p.m. today on Giving Tuesday will see their donation doubled and backed by private, national donors. So, if $20 is donated, the donation turns into $40 from the extra donations nationally. Donations will be doubled up to $50,000.

While the focus is on providing coats to children, Mr. Niles said this isn’t a coat drive.

“Keep in mind that this is not a coat drive. We gratefully accept monetary donations to fund this initiative. All donations go to our nonprofit partner Operation Warm, who will be providing us with brand new, high-quality, colorful winter coats,” he said.

Donations can be made online at operationwarm.org/massena or the Facebook page for the village of Massena Firefighters IAAF 2220. Donations can also be made in person or mailed to Massena Permanent Firefighters, 34 Andrews St., Massena; phone 315-769-2380.

“The more supporters involved in our program, the more children we can reach,” he said.

Overall, firefighters from the nearly 200 firehouses that take part in Operation Warm have set a goal of raising $100,000, which would provide more than 3,000 winter coats to children in their communities.

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