FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — Fond du Lac Fire Rescue is spreading warmth to those in need… literally. The department has been collecting sleeping bags to hand out every winter since 2016.
For the first time this year, the department is also collecting new hats and gloves.
“We keep the sleeping bags on all of our rigs so that if one of our crew members see somebody in need then they just give them a sleeping bag,” said Community Risk Reduction Specialist Calie Tasch.
The department also works with local shelters to distribute the items. Also for the first time this year, the department will work with the Salvation Army to hand out pamphlets with resources for the homeless.
“I think it’s very important because not a lot of us know the resources that we have here in Fond du Lac, especially those in need, especially if they don’t have social media or access to the radio and whatnot,” Tasch said.
Donations can be dropped off at drop boxes located just inside the front door of each of the three fire stations in Fond du Lac. The department is asking that all drop-offs be contactless, but a phone number is posted near the boxes for donors who wish to speak to someone from the department.
While homelessness is a problem that’s often invisible, crew members say it’s still prevalent in the community.
“Even though you may not see that driving down the street, it’s out there and being first responders here we see a lot of it,” said Garth Schumacher, the division chief of fire prevention.
The department can see first hand the impact that such a simple gift can have for those in need.
“Going to the shelters on calls and seeing that they’re actually getting used and the people that have them… they cling to that, they hold onto that,” Schumacher said.
The Roll out the Warmth program has become an annual tradition for the department that crew members say has been a heartwarming experience.
“Hats gloves, warmth, we take that for granted,” Schumacher said. “People don’t always have that and when you can see that the difference you’re making is helping them a little bit, it does warm your heart.”