A young boys smiles as he tries on his brand new coat.

“It’s like this every year,” said Bob Gregory retired WTHR Weatherman.  “We tell them we have more than enough coats for everyone, but they still get here early.”

This year, the annual campaign collected more than 12,000 coats thanks to a major donation by Charming Shoppes this past Tuesday.  The parent company for Lane Bryant and Fashion bug donated more than 6,000 coats as part of their Keeping Kids Warm program.

For 25 years, WTHR-13, Tuchman Cleaners and The Salvation Army have been distributing coats to families in need.  In those 25 years, more than 200,000 coats have been given away.  “The only reason this works is because of our great partnership,” said Mike Washington of Tuchman Cleaners.  “We tried this on our own 26 years ago.  It didn’t work.”  Tuchman Cleaners cleans all of the gently used coats and gives them to The Salvation Army, who then coordinates, collection, distribution, and volunteers.  WTHR handles the public communication and appeals to the community for donations.  “It’s really a well balanced partnership,” said Angela Cain, Community Affairs Director for WTHR.

Aside from the major players, the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana State Police, Kool Smiles, and over 120 volunteers all helped to provide coats to nearly4,700 local area children in need.  “My favorite part is seeing the smiles on the kids faces when we put the coat on them,” said one young volunteer. “It’s a long day that makes it all worth it!”

Giving warmth doesn’t end today. On Monday, area nonprofits will receive some of the remaining coats. To see how you can participate in Coats for Kids next year or to volunteer for one of the exciting opportunities coming this Fall, call 224-1010 or visit our events page.