FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department held their annual coat distribution event on Monday, distributing over 3,000 jackets to 75 local schools, non-profits and shelters.
“A coat goes a long way. There’s the chance a kid might not go outside to play because they don’t have a coat,” said Deputy Chief Willie Bailey. “There’s a chance they might not go to school. I have heard families say the kids take turns wearing the coat.”
For Bailey, the mission is a personal one. The deputy chief didn’t receive his first new coat until he reached high school.
“I grew up in public housing, six to seven kids, my parents didn’t have a whole lot. When I received my first brand new coat, I didn’t want to take it off,” said Bailey.
Bailey wanted other kids in the community to know that feeling of warmth and confidence a coat can bring by creating the annual coat drive. With help from the Fairfax County Police Department and donations from sponsors like Operation Warm, volunteers stuffed bags to the brim with new jackets.
“The coats are going to those who are involved with schools, community centers, non-profits. They all have their own networks and lines to those who might need coats,” said Fire Chief John Butler.
While Fairfax County is considered one of the richest counties in the nation, Butler says there are still many deserving children in need.
“It’s amazing what a new coat does to the psyche,” he said. “Not only does it give you physical warmth, but there’s a mental comforting that goes along with that.”
Bailey says the department will also be hosting another coat distribution event in Alexandria on Oct. 30 to continue to deliver coats to children in need.