Saturday was warm, but parents who made their way to the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the 30th Annual Coats for Kids know that this Indian Summer can’t last forever. Long before the doors opened at 8 a.m., the line of waiting parents and children wrapped around the side of the Elements Financial Blue Ribbon Pavilion. Thanks to the generosity of Central Indiana businesses and individuals, their patience paid off and the day ended with thousands of happy smiles.

Help from Dad at Coats for Kids

Help from Dad at Coats for Kids

For 30 years, The Salvation Army has partnered with Tuchman Cleaners and WTHR to help collect, clean, and distribute more than 100,000 new and gently used coats. Former WTHR weatherman Bob Gregory, who helped launch the program back in 1987, was on site to be a part of the event and witness first hand how much it has grown over the years. Many other WTHR staff members were on hand to help families “shop” for the perfect coats, including Angela Buchman, Sean Ash, Scott Swan, Jennie Runevitch, Steve Jefferson, and Carlos Diaz.

Around 200 volunteers worked with families on the shopping floor, behind the scenes in the restocking area, and throughout the week leading up to distribution day as coats were sorted and racked.

WTHR's Sean Ash

WTHR’s Sean Ash

“These guys do this out of the kindness of their hearts,” says Major Bob Webster, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army in Indiana, about the volunteers who came to help at Coats for Kids. “They got up early on a Saturday because they want to come and they want to help kids go through the line and grab a coat. This is the fun part!”

WTHR’s Sean Ash arrived early as well, greeting volunteers and ready to shop with families as soon as the doors opened. “It’s all about the people of Central Indiana that took the time to donate,” Sean reflects. “And now the reward would be the smiles on those faces”

Many thanks goes out to Two Men and a Truck, which transported and stored thousands of coats leading up to Coats for Kids. Several employees even came back on the day of the event to help kids pick out their coats and match them up with the perfect hat and pair of gloves.

David Murphy mans the hats & glove station

David Murphy mans the hats & glove station

The hat and glove tables were manned by members of the Murphy family, who have donated hats and gloves for the past several years to ensure that kids coming to get a coat also have the warm winter accessories they need. Three generations of Murphys helped to match colors and sizes until every last child had exactly what they needed.

Thank you to the people of Central Indiana for helping to make the 30th Annual Coats for Kids a huge success. Because of your generosity and kind hearts, almost 2,500 children will be warm while waiting for the school bus this winter. They won’t have to miss out on recess because they aren’t dressed for the cold. They’ll get to play outside and build snowmen with their friends. On behalf of these kids and their grateful parents, thank you!