Students in shirtsleeves shivered outside Beech Street Elementary School Friday morning, Nov. 30. But only for a minute.

“Who needs a coat?” asked an enthusiastic Jeff Duval, president of the Manchester Professional Firefighters Association before lovingly helping a small girl pick out a brand new, warm, pink jacket.

“Do you like this coat? This coat is yours!” he told her.

This is the fifth year the city’s firefighters union has participated in Operation Warm, a nonprofit that works with fire departments across North America to provide coats to kids in need. Since they started, Manchester firefighters have purchased more than 2,500 jackets for city kids. With this year’s donations, totaling $18,000, they purchased 810 coats and delivered them to nine city schools, The Way Home and Hillside Middle School’s Bring It program.

“We work with the school district and health department to identify the children who need these coats,” said Duval, who was delivering coats on his day off, just after coming off his 24-hour shift.

All the firefighters delivering coats were on a day off. Operation Warm is one of the several ways they lift up the kids in the community outside their regular duties. Warming the kids warms their hearts.

McDonough Elementary School social worker Paula Alexander picked up several boxes of coats for the Kids Closet, a room at her school which serves as a clearinghouse for clothing donations. It is used by school social workers across the city.

“The other day I had a kid come to school in a tank top and sandals,” said Alexander.

The coats she picked up from the firefighters Friday will probably go quickly.

“We’re always desperate,” said Alexander.

Especially during this time of year when she is collecting extra food and presents for the holidays, on top of the weekly Blessings in a Backpack program, which sends food home with homeless students every Friday.

The jackets purchased through Operation Warm come in a variety of colors, sizes and textures so the recipients can choose something that fits their style and doesn’t look like everybody else’s.

“I like purple and black,” said confident fifth-grader Hailey Gary. She came close with a purple and gray option.

Money for the coats was donated by individuals and local businesses, including Brady Sullivan, Dunkin’ Donuts, Keller Williams and Good Neighbors Fencing.

Try the tres leches – People who have been missing Dulces Bakery since it closed its doors on the West Side will be happy to know it’s back in business. You can now find owners Angela and Jose Mojica selling custom cakes, assorted cookies, empanadas, sandwiches and traditional Spanish pastries from 424 Chestnut St., the former Post Office Fruit Luncheonette.

What’s warming your heart this holiday season? Tell Katie about it at