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'It’s always good to give back'

Cary Ashby • Feb 14, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Jessa Bennett and Anthony Velasco struggled a bit with getting their new winter coats zipped.

So Norwalk firefighter Mike Frado knelt down and helped each of the Maplehurst Elementary students. 

On Friday, 12 children at Maplehurst and League elementary schools received new, donated coats through the national initiative Operation Warm. This year, two local churches, the International Order of Odd Fellows and several individuals donated money to the Norwalk Firefighters Local 1199, which coordinated the coat drive.

Operation Warm, now in its second year in Norwalk, helped 20 local children.

Norwalk firefighter Charlie Hillman was inspired by a similar coat drive in Elyria. He said Operation Warm helps both the community members who need coats and the factory that makes them.

“People can donate outside of the fire department,” said Hillman, the acting union president of Norwalk Firefighters Local 1199.

For more information about Operation Warm, go to https://www.operationwarm.org/about-us.

“It feels good not just to give back when you’re on duty, but when you’re off duty as well. It’s a good representation of the IAFF as well,” Frado said.

Hillman agreed about the good feeling of giving back. As a child, he had first-hand experience receiving the blessings from someone else’s altruism.

“I grew up in a single-parent home. We didn’t have a lot of money. It was always nice when someone did something nice,” Hillman said. “It’s always good to give back.”

First-grader Parker Davis is pleased with his new coat.

“It’s blue — my favorite,” he said. “It’s soft inside.”

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