Milwaukee Fire Dept. collects money to buy new coats for kids

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- As people drove down Farwell and Brady, many couldn't help but notice firefighters clad in their boots and hats carrying buckets and signs.

They weren't putting out fires, but they hope to make a difference in the lives of Milwaukee kids.

"We`re out there every day seeing these children walk by the fire house standing at street corners and they don`t have coats," says Milwaukee Fire Lt. John Litchford.

The Milwaukee Fire Department is teaming up with Operation Warm to begin the Coats for Kids campaign.

Last year, they raised enough money to buy brand new coats for 1,000 MPS students.

"The students were absolutely thrilled. When they were wearing them the next couple days they were running up to me saying look at my new coat, look at my new coat," says Kluge Elementary Principal Deborah Jolitz.

Now the Fire Department is at it again collecting money, so they can deliver the coats come fall.

"These coats are sized and fitted and we order them for that specific child," says Lt. Litchford.

Riley and Kluge Elementary schools were previous recipients due to their high poverty rates.

School officials say they actually saw an increase in attendance after the students got their new coats.

"Without the clothing, without the food, without the general basic needs taken care of we can`t do our job as educators because those needs haven`t been met," says Jolitz.

It's a simple gift that can make a dramatic impact on the life of a child in need.

This is the second year of the Coats for Kids campaign.

The MPS schools receiving this year's coats are in the process of being chosen.

To donate to the cause log onto