While the summer heat is lingering, cold weather will soon hit New Hampshire.

Some families can't afford winter coats for their children, but three local fire department unions are looking to change that.

Firefighters from Londonderry, Salem and Windham unions are participating in Operation Warm, a nationwide effort to provide winter coats to children in need.

Windham is participating in the program for the first time, according to fire Chief Tom McPherson.

"It's one of those things, whenever somebody's in need, the firefighters step up," he said.

Operation Warm is not a coat drive, but rather raises money to buy brand-new coats for children. An average cost is $34 per coat.

The program, founded in 2002, purchases only American-made coats. It has provided coats to more than 300,000 children each year since.

"That $34 allows one child to receive a brand-new jacket that will keep them warm this winter," McPherson said.

The coats New Hampshire firefighters raise money for, McPherson said, will stay in the state and help local children.

"There are over 40,000 (children) in New Hampshire living in poverty," he said. "I think it's a great program and a great way to support those kids that are less fortunate."

James "Bo" Butler, president of Londonderry's professional firefighters union, said it is participating in Operation Warm for the first time, too. The union officially joined the program Tuesday.

"As firefighters, we have a unique window into the lives of those struggling in our community," Butler said. "We interact with citizens in the moments they struggle with fire, medical emergencies, crime and more frequently with each day that passes, we interact with citizens as they struggle through poverty, which does not discriminate."

So far, 22 firefighter unions in the state have signed up to participate in Operation Warm.

Representatives from the Salem Fire Department's union could not be reached, but they are helping in the efforts.

McPherson's firefighters found out about the program through Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, the statewide union, which has urged local department unions to join.

The goal for New Hampshire firefighters, McPherson said, is to raise enough money to buy 4,000 coats.

The union has teamed up with Windham Helping Hands to spread the message and raise money.

The unions' efforts, he said, are similar to the longstanding Muscular Dystrophy Association fundraising in that, if it is popular enough, it will continue for years to come.

"I think, if the program is a success, it will continue," McPherson said. "You'll see them just expand it."

To donate, visit pffnh.org, click "Operation Warm" and find a local union.

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