LYNN — Around 50 children in Lynn walked home with brand new coats, hats, gloves and excited looks on their faces Friday afternoon, courtesy of Boston Bruins Foundation, Lynn Fire and the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts union.
Children roared with excitement as a Lynn firetruck pulled in front of the Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development (LHAND) Curwin Circle Recreation Hall.
The kids crowded around as Blades, the Boston Bruins mascot, hopped out of the firetruck and danced with them, stopping to pose for photographs.
As they darted into the recreational hall, the children munched on pizza and cookies while they lined up to receive their coats, each one individually signed with their names.
James Nardone, 10, said that he liked his new coat, but that the Bruins mascot made the day for him.
“My favorite part was meeting Blades,” he said.
The coat drive is part of Operation Warmth, a nonprofit organization that provides locally made winter coats to children in underserved communities. On Friday, firefighters and Bruins Foundation members distributed more than 160 coats to children in Lynn, Holyoke and Brockton.
LHAND Youth Services Coordinator Cathay Rowe said that she was grateful to the organizers. She said that many of the children attending were living in LHAND residences and that the event was a great way for the community to come together.
“We have a lot of families here who are in need, so it was nice for them to reach out so we can work together to kind of give back to the community,” Rowe said. “Especially within the city, the more we work together, the more we can help our community.”
Donielle McKeever, the owner and founder of Charlestown fashion company ThreadTech, said that her company made the 160 coats from regionally sourced, military-grade shelf fabrics.
“I love seeing the kids. I hope they enjoy them, and I hope they’re warm and comfortable for them,” McKeever said.
Lynn Local 7391 Firefighters Union President Matthew Reddy was among those handing out and personally signing the coats. Wearing ear-to-ear smiles, he and a group of firefighters helped the younger children zip up their new coats.
“Firefighters get as much out of it as the kids do,” Reddy said. “They get a jacket, and we get a smile. Everyone feels good.”
President of the Bruins Foundation Bob Sweeney said that he was glad to be able to return to the program after the pandemic.
“The first time we did this was in Lawrence before the pandemic, and obviously we haven’t been able to do something like this in a few years. To be able to come into a community like Lynn and help out some of these kids with winter coats is something that we really want to do,” Sweeney said.
“You look at the kids and the smiles on their faces — and whether it’s when they get to meet Blades, our mascot, or when they get new coats and hats and mittens, when you see a smile on a kid’s face — that’s what it’s all about,” Sweeeney added.