Fire station gets early start on coat drive

By Paul Suarez, Columbian freelance



You Can Help

Donations can be left from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Vancouver Fire Station 2, 400 E. 37th St., next to the Main Street Safeway.

America’s Self Storage, 108 N.W. 139th St. is also accepting donations from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Did You Know?

Firefighters collected more than 5,000 coats in 2011, 3,000 in 2010 and about 700 in 2004, the first year of the drive.

Firefighters want your help to keep Clark County's needy warm this winter.

The crew at Vancouver Fire Department Station 2 kicked off their ninth annual charitable coat drive Wednesday. People interested in donating clean, usable coats and blankets can drop them off at the station, 400 E. 37th St., between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. through Jan. 1. America's Self Storage will also collect coats at 108 N.W. 139th St. in Salmon Creek.

Children's coats are in high demand, said firefighter-paramedic Ben Burtle, who took over the drive this year. Last year's drive was spearheaded by Capt. Matt Krussow, who was promoted and no longer works at Station 2. Krussow took over after Duane Schuman, founder of the coat drive, was promoted to battalion chief and left the station.

Burtle said he helped with the drive the last two years and wanted to make sure the tradition kept going.

"It seemed like a valuable program," he said. "People really seem to respond to the call from the fire department to bring coats out."

There are a lot of local agencies that benefit from clothing, he said.

Burtle said he's already been approached by people looking for coats. That prompted him to start collecting coats on Halloween. Traditionally, the coat drive started around Thanksgiving, he said.

"It kind of makes sense that we bracket it between Halloween and Christmas," he said.

Coats have been taken to YWCA, Share House, Open House Ministries, Homestead Shelter, Jason Lee Middle and Hough, Washington and Fruit Valley elementary schools.

Dax Tucker, manager at the Salmon Creek America's Self Storage, said he will be handing out raffle tickets to people who make donations. Customers get a chance to win a free month of rent. Non-customers will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Visa gift card, he said. It will be collecting coats through Jan. 1.

Toni Wilson, manager in charge of the drive for the storage company last year, said they saw a big increase in donations from previous years, particularly from people who aren't customers.

"That was really fun," she said. "I was glad it grew so much."