Saturday started out chilly, but it didn’t stop hundreds of families from visiting the Indiana State Fairgrounds to help their children start out the winter with warm coats, hats and gloves. In fact, the cold weather was a good reminder of why Coats for Kids has been helping families in need for 29 years. The Salvation Army teamed up with WTHR, Tuchman Cleaners and Two Men and a Truck to collect, clean, store and distribute thousands of coats this year in order to ensure that no child in central Indiana goes cold this winter.
The doors at the Elements Financial Blue Ribbon Pavilion opened at 8 AM, but the first family in line had been camped out with blankets and folding chairs since 2:30 AM. The line stretched around the building as a steady stream of parents arrived with their children. With the help of over 300 volunteers, the line quickly entered the building and each family was matched with a personal coat shopper. After choosing coats for each child, the families headed to tables covered with thousands of gloves, mittens and hats. The Murphy family, long-time Salvation Army supporters, donated 3,000 hats and 3,000 pairs of gloves to guarantee that supplies wouldn’t run out. They also volunteered, helping kids choose the perfect gear among dozens of styles and sizes. From the tiniest newborns to teenagers taller than their parents, every child left with the cold weather gear they’ll need to get through another tough Indiana winter.
Among the volunteers were many staff members from WTHR, including John Stehr, Mimi Pierce, Angela Buchman, Steve Jefferson, Rich Nye, Scott Swan, Sean Ash and Carrie Cline. Of course, everyone at the event was excited to see Bob Gregory, Coats for Kids spokesman and former weatherman at WTHR. Majors Bob and Collette Webster joined Bob Gregory as they greeted families and helped kids find the perfect coats for the season ahead.
By 2:00 PM, 2,581 coats had been distributed to families in need. Coats for Kids helps to ease the financial burden that winter brings to families, when heating costs go up and growing kids need new gear to keep them warm while waiting for the school bus or playing outside. This important program is made possible by the generosity of individuals, families and businesses in our community who donate time, cash and coats. Thank you for all you do to support Coats for Kids!