By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It began as a fun, out-of-the-box idea for last February’s Super Bowl. You might recall those plaid, faux fur trapper hats that Minneapolis ad agency Mono sold, pre-warmed to out of town guests.

Explains Mono co-owner, Jim Scott, “the hat would be delivered, it’s what we do. But when we were able to turn the corner and make it turn into this, that was pretty amazing.”

Nine months after Mono’s fun community service project came the ultimate payoff. That’s after proceeds from the sale went directly to the Twin Cities Firefighter’s Operation Warm.

On Tuesday at Anderson United Community School in Minneapolis, hundreds of children in need lined up for new winter coats.

“We’re doing over 10 schools this year,” explained firefighter and Operation Warm co-program director, Justin Johnson.

Companies like Mono, fire truck maker McQueen and other groups in the Twin Cities pooled together over $160,000 to benefit Operation Warm. That money is then used to purchase new children’s winter coats for community distribution.

Adds Mono’s Jim Scott, “there’s so much going on in the world today that you have to stop and say this is going on too.”

Five-alarm smiles on the children’s faces say it all. Each is allowed to select the coat and color of their liking. All neatly stacked by size, in rows much like shopping in a department store.

“We normally pick the schools from the free reduced lunch program, and unfortunately it’s not hard to find schools that fit the criteria,” Johnson said.

What Johnson helped kick off in Minneapolis six years ago, is spilling to surrounding communities.

President of Firefighters Local 82, Mark Lakosky adds, “we’ve blown it up. We’ve got Eagan, Richfield, Burnsville and Coon Rapids has come on board. It’s really a no-brainer.”

Providing comfortable coats to deserving children, thanks to the generosity of so many warm hearts.

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