Coat distributions were held at the Charles Houston Recreation Center and Samuel Tucker Elementary School.
“We have always held this event prior to Halloween because we know that having a new coat while out trick or treating would mean the world to the kids,” said organizer and Firefighters and Friends founder Willie Bailey.
ARHA volunteers joined firefighters in the distribution of coats to children in the community.
“We always look forward to partnering with other organizations in the city to ensure that children have a new coat for the winter,” said ARHA CEO Keith Pettigrew. “We believe that every child, regardless of circumstances, deserves to feel warmth and the confidence that comes from the gift of something new, made just for them.”
Bailey, a lifelong resident of the Del Ray community, founded the nonprofit more than 20 years ago.
“We believe that every child, regardless of circumstances, deserves to feel warmth and the confidence that comes from the gift of something new, made just for them.”
— ARHA CEO Keith Pettigrew
“The gift of a brand-new coat or shoes empowers children by sparking self-confidence in a way that second-hand clothing cannot,” Bailey said. “The gift of a new coat can help students attend school, socialize with their peers and play outside with pride. Lastly, a brand-new coat offers hope to both children and their parents, reminding them there are those in their community that care about their well-being and future.”
Sponsors for the event included: Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority; Operation Warm; Firefighter & Friends to the Rescue; Jack Taylor Toyota Dealership; InSpireLit (New Books); Department Progressive Club; Alexandria Department of Parks and Recreation; Caring Angels Therapy Dogs; and George Mason Athletics.
The pandemic has fueled the need for more financial support, something Bailey hopes will come from the Alexandria community.
“A huge shout out to the nonprofit Operation Warm, but as the number of families and children in need continues to grow, we need more to sustain this effort,” Bailey said. “We need more people to join our team to keep kids warm each winter.”
To donate, visit https://secure.givelively.org/donate/operation-warm-inc/join-firefighter-friends-to-the-rescue-and-fairfax-county-fire-rescue-department-to-give-coats-to-kids-in-need.