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Tacoma firefighters deliver warm coats to kids in need during cold snap

Students at Downing Elementary School are all smiles in their new winter coats thanks to Tacoma Firefighters Local 31. Pictured here in back row, left to right, are Tacoma Firefighters Dave McRoberts, Matt Frank, Ryan Mudie and Matt Graham. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Mudie)

Some kids in Tacoma are finding it a lot easier to deal with this week's cold snap thanks to the generosity of the Tacoma Fire Department and the community.

Hundreds of low-income children in Tacoma alone don't have coats to keep warm, says Ryan Mudie, president of Tacoma Firefighters Union local 31 and a veteran firefighter and paramedic. It's why they take part in a national effort called "Operation Warm," which provides new, American-made warm winter coats to kids in need.

"We as firefighters, our culture is to give back to our community not only professionally but also off duty," says Mudie. "I just got off shift this morning and saw several kids that desperately needed coats and didn't have them."

The Tacoma firefighters have partnered with the Tacoma School District and Head Start program to identify kids in need. They recently raised $6,000 to provide 200 coats and had already planned to distribute them this week to a number of schools. The timing couldn't have been better.

"We put these coats right on the kids' backs and we watch the smile and the impact that has," he says. "That's the best part to see the smile and the difference it makes to see when they go to school - they're focused on learning and not having to worry about whether they're warm or not."

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