Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Paxinosa Students Geared Up for Winter, Thanks to Easton Firefighters

By Christina Georgiou

Paxinosa Elementary School students show off their new winter coats Tuesday afternoon. The Easton Fire Department's
"Coats for Kids" campaign outfitted 125 kids in need with brand-new, American-made winter garments.
Click on any photo for a full size view.
It's getting chilly outside, and it's only going to get colder as winter comes, but 125 Paxinosa Elementary School students are well-prepared for the season after  Easton firefighters outfitted them with brand new winter coats this afternoon.

The Easton Firefighters Coats for Kids campaign raised almost $4,000 since its kick off in August to provide the American-made garments to students that participate in the free and reduced-price lunch program at the school.

A student, assisted by an Easton firefighter, picks up her
new coat in front of Paxinosa Elementary School Tuesday
The students had their choice of colors--light pink, dark pink, or purple for the girls and gray, bright blue, or khaki for the boys--and each coat was tried on to ensure the proper fit, with a little room to grow too. Then, each child's name was written on the label inside by the Easton firefighters who volunteered their time for the giveaway event shortly before the end of the school day in front of the Northampton Street school Tuesday afternoon.

Donations to pay for the warm winter garments came from a variety of community sources and individuals, Easton Firefighters Coats for Kids organizer James Cocheran said.

"We got a lot of help," he said.

Sponsors, in addition to private donations, included Two Rivers Brewing Company and Rivals Sports Bar and Nightclub, both of who held multiple fund raising nights where profits from sales were donated to the cause.

IRCO Community Federal Credit Union in Phillipsburg, NJ was a major sponsor of the campaign too.

"And that's really amazing, since they're not even in Easton," Cochoran said.

One young man can't contain his excitement after receiving
his new bright blue winter coat.
Other local and area community businesses, including American Printing, Easton T-Shirts and Logos, Vintage Restaurant, Genesis Bicycles, Minuteman Press, Spa Soleil, and Dorney Park, also donated funds, supplies and materials, he added.

For their part, the students seemed delighted with their coats, showing them off to friends and happily posing for photos.

But despite the happy atmosphere, that there is such a need for the coat drive should be cause for reflection, Easton Fire Department Chief John Bast said. More than 80 percent of the approximately 725 students that attend Paxinosa Elementary School are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program, and about 1 in 6 of the students that attend the school were recipients of the city firefighters' generosity.

Students also got some fire prevention tips from
"Coats for Kids" organizer, Easton firefighter James
"It says something that we have to give away this many coats," he said. "We have to take care of each other."

Anthony Viglianti, who took over as Paxinosa's principal this year after serving as a principal at Easton Area Middle School, said the event showed how much the community cares about the students.

"This is unbelievable," Viglianti said. "The overwhelming support the city provides, not only to our students, but the families too, is unbelievable. I always knew it when I was at the middle school, but now that I'm here and get to see it first hand...well, it's just incredible."

But Cochoran and all the other firefighters with the Easton Fire Department who spent months fund raising and donating funds of their own to make the coats a reality were modest about their efforts.

"It couldn't have worked out better," Cocheran said, as the children cavorted around him. "It was really great to see the smiles on the faces of the kids."

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