SEABROOK — When Seabrook firefighters decided to give new winter coats to local children, they didn’t want the donation to be based on a family’s income.
They felt money shouldn’t matter, and in cases where a child already has a coat, a second one is always nice to have.
“If you live in Seabrook in the winter time you need a coat,” firefighter Richard Curtis said.
For the second year, several firefighters from the Seabrook Professional Firefighters Local 2847 visited Seabrook Elementary School on Monday carrying large boxes filled with warm coats.
Groups of students from preschool to second grade stopped by to pick up their new coat after getting fitted with some help from the firefighters. They left wearing their new coat and a smile on their face.
Curtis said firefighters gave away 170 coats this year through an organization called Operation Warmth.
While some fire departments provide similar coat drives and determine the recipients using a financial criteria, Curtis said that wasn’t the approach Seabrook wanted to take. Forms were sent home to the families of all younger students asking if they wanted a coat. Those who responded received one.
“We don’t want to get into issues of pride or have kids singled out amongst themselves, so we just said, ‘If you want a coat sign up and we’ll give you one’ and a lot of people did,” he said.
Seabrook firefighters donated about 150 coats last year, which was the first year of the program.
Curtis recalled how there were many times when he would end up with a sopping wet coat after being outside in the winter when he was a kid.
“It’s good to have a second coat when it’s cold, and we’re happy to do it,” he said.
Principal Stephanie Lafreniere said there’s been an outpouring of support for the coat program.
“Lots of students have participated both years. We saw more people calling after last year saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize the coats would be so great. I wish my kid did it,’” she said.