The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 13, 2013

Firefighters hope to provide coats for kids

JOHNSTOWN — Johnstown firefighters are trained to help people during emergencies.

Firefighters are answering the call once again but in a slightly different way, providing new winter coats to children in need.

The firefighters, members of Local 463 of the International Association of Fire Fighters,  are participating in the union’s

Firefighters Coats for Kids program.

The goal is to raise at least $3,500 to buy coats for pupils in an entire grade at East Side Elementary School, said Mike Prebehalla, a Johnstown fire captain and member of Local 463.

The firefighters have not yet decided on which grade to help.

“We are in the community and travel the roads daily,” Prebehalla said.

“We see the children standing at the bus stops. We see them walking to school.

“We just want to keep the children warm. Some don’t have any coats while others have coats that are old.”

Firefighters started raising funds earlier this month by soliciting businesses for donations, he said.

“Businesses are a big part of our community, and they see these children on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

“Businesses have been very supportive of us in the past with all of our charitable endeavors.”

Donations can be made by sending a check made payable to Johnstown Professional Firefighters, P.O. Box 454, Johns-town, PA 15907; by visiting one of the firehouses; or by visiting

Greater Johnstown Schools Superintendent Gerald Zahorchak said the coat project is a great idea.

“Firefighters do so much for our community with which to begin,” he said. “To add this project illustrates that the men and women in the fire service are extraordinarily good people.”

The firefighters would like to have the coats ordered by

Oct. 25 and delivered by early November, Prebehalla said.

 Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

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