Operation Warm underway with a goal of providing 1,000 coats for kids

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MANCHESTER, NH — With thermometer mercury already dipping into the “turn on the heater” range here in New Hampshire, Operation Warm is right on time. On Thursday Arthur Sullivan of Brady Sullivan Properties stopped by Central Fire Station to deliver a $10,000 check which will go a long way toward reaching this year’s goal of 1,000 coats for Manchester kids in need.

On hand to accept the check were members of Manchester Professional Firefighters Association Local 856, who will spin donations into colorful brand new coats for the sixth year in a row. Each year the goal increases, along with the need. In the past five years, 2,652 coats were distributed through the Manchester School District, with 822 kids receiving coats last year.

“I was a principal at Parker Varney before moving over to the district office and, as principal, I would see kids coming to school on cold days with no jacket,” said Manchester School District Assistant Superintendent Amy Allen, who attended Thursday’s check presentation. Seeing that the basic needs of students are met allows teachers to focus on teaching and means that students have better outcomes, Allen said.

From left, Chad Gamache, Brian Paquette, Jeff Duval, Arthur Sullivan, Jonathan Starr, Steve Pearson, Joe Michael, Mike Benoit. Photo/Carol Robidoux

The school district has more than 1,000 students who have been identified as “homeless,” which means partnerships with outside organizations such as the Firefighters Local 856 and Brady Sullivan helps to bridge gaps for families already struggling to make ends meet.

Sullivan said it is an honor to be able to help out in such a tangible way.

“Whenever you do anything that’s good you feel good about it, and that’s what we’re all about, giving back to our community,” said Sullivan, who is engaged with the school district as a founding member of the Manchester Proud Champions Council, an organization currently mapping out a long-term plan for the district’s success.

He said he believes there are many pieces to solving the puzzle of meeting the school district’s varying needs.

“It’s sad to know there are homeless students in our city,” Sullivan said. “The hope is that someday there is no longer a need like this in our city.”

Jeff Duval, President of MPFFA Local 856, presented Sullivan with a plaque recognizing his company’s contribution to Operation Warm.

“Last year Arthur came in on his white horse and saved us,” said Manchester Fire Captain Jon Starr. “We were running short on funds and he came in and made up the gap, and we were able to distribute more than 800 coats last year.”

Local 856 continues to accept donations for this year’s coat drive. They expect to distribute coats sometimes in late November, according to Duval. Click here for more information on how to support Operation Warm.