PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It takes a special person to run into a burning building, but firefighters do it every day.

Now, many of those same men and women are concentrating on another effort that helps children in our community.

Before the snow flies this winter, Pittsburgh firefighters want to make sure kids will stay warm.

“We organize the fundraising efforts as well as the coat distribution throughout the Pittsburgh Public Schools for all the children that we bring in,” Pittsburgh Firefighters Local 1 Vice President John Gardell said.

It’s a very big job to have enough for the need. This year, they are donating more than 1,700 coats, along with hats, gloves and mittens

“Pittsburgh firefighters were our very first fire department that we worked with, but now, there are about 250 fire departments across the country who are fundraising in their community to cover their low-income children with brand new winter coats that are made in the USA,” Operation Warm’s Renee Koerner said.

It is a labor of love for the firefighters, who not only volunteer during the distribution, but throughout the year.

“A lot of these guys have helped me get out to their schools with their teachers and guidance counselors in the schools, size the children, order the coats, receive the shipment and then get them out to the kids,” Gardell said.

While something as simple as a coat may not seem like a lot to some, to these kids, it’s a really big deal.

“For these children, the whole experience of getting something brand new that they can write their name inside of, it’s not a hand-me-down. It’s not something that has been worn before. It really is more than a coat for them,” Koerner said.

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