Imagine how it feels standing outside during one of Milwaukee’s famous brutally cold winter days. Sleet, ice and snow, of course, are all pretty much guaranteed.
Freezing temperatures start in October. By April, Milwaukeeans usually emerge on the other side of more than 93 inches of snow and daily low temperatures that can get in the negative double digits. Sometimes at the beginning of the cold season, the freezing rain comes in sideways, jabbing, melting and refreezing on exposed skin.
It takes a lot of strength to fight something Milwaukee’s winter for five or six months. Now imagine you are a child, and you don’t have the means to protect yourself with a warm winter coat?
The Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) is lending their strength to protect the most vulnerable in their community. They are “putting out a different fire: students in need of winter coats,” as MFD says, through the Warm up Winter program.
MFD works with local schools each year to determine the areas of greatest need, working with them to provide more than 16,000 coats to date. They do this through community support and strong fundraising efforts.
The Impact of Warm up Winter
“It is about—staying warm,” says Fire Fighter Kevin Monaghan.
“I’ve seen what Warm Up Winter does, giving a child a new coat and seeing the smile that you put on their face, and seeing the impact. They feel good about themselves, they feel a part of the community, just like any other kid, who might come from a better home or a better neighborhood. They have their new coat, so when they are walking in the school or walking out of school—wherever they are, they feel good about themselves.”
Monaghan says giving brand new coats impacts more than just the children and the schools who received them. The program also impacted him personally. “I’ve had both my daughters do the [giving] of the coats, so they’ve gone to multiple schools with us. It impacted me on what we were doing because they said, ‘Dad this is awesome. I can’t believe we are doing this. We didn’t know these kids didn’t have some of these privileges!’”
Who Was Strong Enough to Pull a Fire Truck?
One of the most popular Fire Fighter Fundraising events for Warm up Winter took place a few weeks ago, on September 29, during a practically balmy (for Milwaukee) 58-degree day. Twelve teams competed, pulling a 15-ton fire truck 75 feet to help raise money to buy coats for Milwaukee children in need.
Witnesses say it was a joyful and fun event, with drinks, food and a great cause to support.
“As much as we get negative stuff, there are a lot of great things happening, and I wish it was just more publicized,” says Mark Sain, President of the Milwaukee School Board and a retired firefighter. He has attended and competed in the event for last three years.
“Last year, our team finished fourth, which was a great feat for them, competing with Fire Fighters,” he says. “It was just a great event, and the work that the Milwaukee Fire Department does with the folks from Operation Warm has really been a benefit for Milwaukee’s Children.”
Congratulations to All Who Participated
Operation Warm would like to offer congratulations to Rescue 2, the team that ultimately claimed the top title of Milwaukee Hero’s Haul 2018. We also want to congratulate all of the teams and supporters for making a difference in the lives of Milwaukee school children.
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