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Columbia Gas Presents Winter Coats to Square One Children

SPRINGFIELD — This winter, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts is finding new ways to help Square One children stay warm — by donating brand new, USA-made coats to local children in need.

This initiative is part of a new partnership that Columbia Gas has forged with Firefighters for Operation Warm. For every free home energy assessment requested by a customer during the month of October, the company is donating one new coat in cooperation with the Firefighters for Operation Warm, a non-profit organization that provides new, USA-made coats to children in need. Local firefighters will match the coat donations, doubling the number of children who will receive a new winter coat.

“We were ecstatic to get the call from Columbia Gas to let us know that Square One would be receiving 143 winter coats for our children,” says Kristine Allard, Vice President of Development for Square One. “This time of year presents a great struggle for many of our families, who are not in a position to pay for the winter gear their children need to remain healthy and warm.”

The new coats were due to be presented to Square One today at 10 a.m. at 255 King Street in Springfield. Volunteers from Columbia Gas and the Firefighters for Operation Warm delivered the coats via firetruck.

“Partnering with Operation Warm is a wonderful way to support our customers and our communities,” said Steve Bryant, president of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts. “We have a long history of collaborating with our local fire departments. Joining together to help needy children stay warm is a wonderful continuation of that partnership — and in a new way — support the communities we serve.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with Operation Warm and Columbia Gas to provide new USA-made coats to area children,” said Jay Colbert, president, Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts. “Our 219 locals are committed to this mission because we’ve seen how something as simple as a warm coat can help a child stay warm, healthy, safe and excel in all they do.”

Operation Warm was founded in Kennett Square, Pa. in 1998 by local businessman Dick Sanford. While driving one cold December morning, he saw a group of coatless children huddled at a bus stop. The sight prompted him to drive to a local department store and purchase every coat in stock. With the help of his local Rotary Club, those 58 coats were given directly to kids in need, and Operation Warm was born. Since then, the organization has distributed over 2 million coats to children in need.

In 2012, Operation Warm partnered with the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) to extend support to more local communities. Currently, more than 200 fire locals across the country have partnered with Operation Warm, donating coats to more than 140,000 children nationwide.

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