Sumner elementary students bundle up with new warm coats

Tayvonna hugs her new winter coat close after East Pierce firefighters make sure it's a good fit.

Nothing says happy like a warm coat in the winter.

That’s why East Pierce Fire and Rescue teamed up with the Coats for Kids Foundation for the third year in a row to help out with Operation Warm, an annual program devoted to providing new winter coats to children in the community who otherwise could not afford one.

East Pierce firefighters fitted coats on nearly 100 children Dec. 3 at Daffodil Valley Elementary before moving on to five other elementary schools in the Sumner School District.

Last year, the Local 3520 firefighter union, which handles the donations for this fundraiser, raised enough money last year to buy 620 coats (about $22,000).

“In 2014, we ranked number 10 among all other fire departments in the United States for putting the most coats on kids,” said firefighter Hunter Chumbley, who has led the effort since the program launched in 2013.

“We are going to find a way to get coats on every kid in our district who needs a coat,” Chumbley said. “This means all the schools in every city we serve, if the child or teacher says they need a coat, I want to be able to supply them with that coat.”

As of Dec. 2, $22,000 has been raised, but the union is still accepting donations. The money raised this December will continue to go towards giving kids new coats this winter season after December, any donated money will go towards funding next year’s drive.

Chumbley said he is often asked if used coats could be donated instead of money.

The answer, unfortunately, is no.

“All of the coats come from the Coats for Kids Foundation, so we need monetary donations to make this possible,” he said.

Donations can be made online at www.operationwarm.org/eastpierce or dropped off during regular business hours at the headquarters fire station at 18421 Veterans Memorial Drive East, in Bonney Lake.