| Neighborhoods

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

McKeesport firefighters take up coat cause

Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport firefighters Jeff Tomovscik, Mark St. Clair and Deputy Chief Vince Wassel review literature explaining the Coats for Kids initiative. Jennifer R.

Email Newsletters

Sign up for one of our email newsletters.
By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 4:06 a.m.

Through the Coats for Kids Foundation and Operation Warm, McKeesport firefighters are raising funds to provide every student at George Washington Elementary with a new winter coat.

With the International Association of Fire Fighters adopting the Coats for Kids Foundation as a partner charity in 2012, Local 10 of McKeesport is reaching out to city children as winter approaches.

While many of the IAFF-supported charities may help a handful of area children through national programs, Local 10 president Jerry Tedesco said Coats for Kids and Operation Warm allow McKeesport firefighters to target their efforts at home.

“This is something that can help an entire school full of kids right here,” Tedesco said. “It gives us the opportunity, as firefighters, to know that we are really contributing to our community and the lives of local kids.”

Local 10 vice president Jeff Tomovscik, whose sons attend George Washington, said he noticed while dropping off his own children and visiting the school for fire prevention programs that kids are in need of coats.

“Even when the temperature has been close to freezing, kids are wearing hooded sweatshirts,” Tomovscik said. “Many of them don't have anything else.”

Firefighters said 87 percent of George Washington's 470 students are part of families who live at or below the poverty line.

Many students who have older siblings wear hand-me-down coats. And while those items provide warmth, Tedesco said, these kids never have owned a piece of new clothing.

“Our vision is that every child wearing a new winter coat will be healthy, able to attend school regularly and will develop strong self-esteem,” Operation Warm's website indicates.

In the 2011-12 winter, Operation Warm served its 1 millionth child, making it one of the largest donors of new coats in the nation. The organization provides children with new winter coats that they can choose from a selection of designs for girls and boys.

“It's something to keep them warm, but it's also a piece of self-esteem,” Tedesco said. “They get to pick what they want, and they're going to feel good.”

George Washington principal Paul Sweda said McKeesport Area School District is “extremely appreciative” of McKeesport Fire Department and its dedication to students.

“George Washington will put the coats to great use in keeping our students warm during the chilly months ahead,” Sweda said.

IAFF Local 10 must raise $7,000 by Dec. 10 in order to provide jackets to the entire George Washington student body before the district's winter break. There is an approximate two-week turnaround time between placing the order and receiving the coats. Approximately $1,500 had been raised at presstime.

To make a donation toward IAFF Local 10's Operation Warm goal, go online to

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Rossi: It’s past time for NFL to protect players
  2. Steelers players say they support Tomlin’s attempts at deception
  3. Steelers’ Roethlisberger reported symptoms that led to his exit vs. Seahawks
  4. Steelers stalled by Seahawks, on outside of AFC wild-card picture
  5. Week 12 — Steelers-Seahawks gameday grades
  6. Steelers notebook: Seahawks’ Sherman gets better of WR Brown
  7. Family of man accused of shooting St. Clair officer say allegations don’t fit his character
  8. Muslim civil rights group seeks investigation into shooting of Pittsburgh taxi driver
  9. Community comes together to mourn death of St. Clair police officer
  10. Pennsylvania Game Commission reaps revenue from shale gas under game lands
  11. Sports Deli is latest tenant to say goodbye to Parkway Center Mall