NEW BEDFORD -On Wednesday morning, two New Bedford fire trucks arrived at John B. DeValles Elementary School located at 120 Katherine Street. However, this story is a lot better than you may have anticipated.

The trucks arrived to the elementary school as part of a fundraising project of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts, the umbrella organization for local fire unions across the state. Once at the school, 18 New Bedford Firefighters gave away 100 brand new winter coats to DeValles Principal Darcie Aungst and a large assembly of students on hand so they could be donated to children in need throughout New Bedford Public Schools.

In total, the union has donated more than 4,200 coats in the last three years. This winter, more than 900 new USA-made coats will be given to children in Agawam, Brockton, Easthampton, Holyoke, Lawrence, Methuen, New Bedford, Northampton, Jamaica Plain, Springfield and Taunton. The coats are through a partnership with Operation Warm and all are USA-made.

“We see people at their worst, when we respond to a house fire or medical emergency,” said Rich MacKinnon, president of the statewide union that includes 219 locals. “In a profession often met with heartache and tragedy, being able to give more than 100 children in New Bedford - and more than 4,200 across the state - a new coat is truly special.”

Dr. Pia Durkin, Superintendent, expressed thanks to the fire fighters, noting “words are not enough to say how much we appreciate what you do to keep us all safe every day, and as your wonderful gift here demonstrates, your caring never ends - you keep us safe, and warm, too!”

Bill Cabral, Secretary-Treasurer of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts and a New Bedford firefighter, stressed the importance of staying warm and healthy to succeed in school. “A lot of the men and women on the New Bedford Fire Department grew up in the city and went to these same schools. We want to keep you healthy so you can excel in school, sports and other activities.”

In 2012 Operation Warm and the International Association of Firefighters launched a partnership that spans the US and Canada. The organization has provided more than 2-million coats to children in need.

The Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts represent more than 12,000 career firefighters across the state from 219 locals. More information can be found at

Photo Credit: New Bedford Public Schools