Picture yourself in the Boundary Bay beer garden, also known as Bellingham’s Backyard. The sun is shining, the corn hole is competitive and the beer is flowing. This time around, you have a raspberry saison in your hand, but it’s so much more than a raspberry saison. Other than being brewed with curry leaves by two of your favorite breweries, Boundary Bay Brewery and Atwood Ales, this saison is helping put coats on kids who need them during the winter months in Whatcom County.

This hypothetical beer garden scene becomes a reality on Saturday, July 20. Boundary Bay is hosting a fundraiser for Operation Warm, a local organization putting winter coats on elementary children, partially through the proceeds from a collaborative beer between Boundary Bay and Atwood Ales. This year’s beer is a raspberry saison brewed with curry leaves, bringing you a funk that is true to the Atwood Ales form. Saturday’s fundraiser will be one of the few select places carrying the beer, so make sure you stop by if you want to try one of this year’s best local collaborations.

One of the people leading the cause at Operation Warm, Jeff Heinrichs, is a member of the International Association of Firefighters, an organization representing nearly every firefighter in Whatcom County. Operation Warm is spearheaded by firefighters and turns 5 this year. The primary mission of Operation Warm is to get brand new winter coats on the backs of kids who may not have access to resources that could provide them with a new winter jacket. We all know it gets cold in Whatcom County, and local firefighters often see families who needs a resource like Operation Warm to provide extra layers during the colder months. This is one reason that motivated Heinrichs to get involved with Operation Warm.

“At work as a firefighter we see kids and familys that have a real need for clothes and resources,” said Heinrichs. This program seemed to be a natural fit for me to help out with.  Last year when we handed out jackets at Kendall Elementary with the help of Whatcom County Fire Department #14 and Chief Jerry DeBruin, many many kids were saying how happy they were to get a new jacket and hadn’t had a new coat ever in their life.”

When Heinrichs approached DeBruin about helping with this project, DeBruin was in without hesitation.

“We ended up with three of their apparatus and 4 or 5 of his people volunteering their time to help us out.  The firefighter association also made a very large donation to help get us to our goal of the whole school,” said Heinrichs.

Heinrichs has always been a fan of Boundary Bay beer as well as beer from his personal friends, Josh and Monica from Atwood Ales. The two breweries were a no-brainer when it came to choosing a team for a collaboration beer fundraiser.

“Boundary was my go to when we first ramped up; they are very benevolent and I’ve know Casey for years (who doesn’t? That guy knows everyone!) and they made it super easy to use their beer garden and help get us going with an event.  I am personal friends with Josh and Monica and LOVE their beer.  An interesting side note I met both of them when they were either working at Frankenstein and Maggies Pub in Ferndale,” Heinrich said. He even helped Josh go pick up fermentation tanks in Portland back when Atwood was in its beginning growth stages.

While Operation Warm has been going for five years, this year’s beer is the second collaboration beer that benefits the organization. Both years, Heinrich has put his trust in Boundary and Atwood to choose an awesome and unique beer to make for this cause. Heinrich has been involved in the actual making of the beer both this year and last.

“Boundary and Atwood donate a majority of the proceeds from this beer to operation warm. They’re not just out to put another beer on the tap list, they truely want to help out. The more I dig into the brewing community the more I find they really want to be part of the community and give back. Both of these breweries have offered me help in fundraising beyond making a special beer,” said Heinrich.

The event on Saturday is $10 suggested donation and directly benefits Operation Warm. If you’re looking for an excuse to drink beer and feel warm and fuzzy on the inside by making kids warm and fuzzy on the outside through new winter jackets, this event is for you. Stop by Boundary Bay between 6 and 10 pm to witness a truly beautiful part of the Bellingham community through craft beer.