Indianapolis - Channel 13 launches one of its longest running community campaigns on Labor Day, the 23rd Annual Bob Gregory Coats for Kids campaign.
It's a simple gift that can mean the world to kids - the gift of a coat. For 23 years, Tuchman Cleaners, the Salvation Army, and Channel 13 have joined forces, with your help, to give free coats to our kids. Year after year, kids line up for coats, some wrapped only in blankets.
"Unfortunately, the need is always there and I think this year more than ever, I mean, there's going be a lot of families with children that are going to need new to them coats, but the important thing is warm coats for winter," said former WTHR weatherman Bob Gregory, the event's namesake.
With a 10 percent unemployment rate in Indiana, more Hoosiers are standing in line this year for unemployment benefits. That's why the Salvation Army expects Coats for Kids lines to grow as well.
"I would anticipate probably anywhere between 25-35 percent increase with regards to coat distribution," said Major Richard Amick with the Salvation Army.
You can help meet the growing need by dropping off a new or gently used coat at any Tuchman Cleaners location. You can also drop off a coat on a special collection day at an Indianapolis Colts home game at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 4. If you don't have a coat, you can donate cash or a check - made out to the Salvation Army - at the game, so we can buy coats for kids.
The Salvation Army will also collect coats or money at its annual Apple Fest on Monument Circle in October. All of the coats end up at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, where the Salvation Army prepares them for Coat Distribution Day on Saturday, October 10.
"All we ask is if your child needs a coat, come on down, that's all there is to it. Nobody's asking any questions about whether you're working, not working, income, none of that business, if a child needs a coat, he comes in and gets a coat free," said Gregory.
The Salvation Army needs you to volunteer, along with Channel 13 personalities to help make a child smile.
"They'll help with in regards to walking that family through and as far as helping them pick out that coat for their child, kind of guiding them through, as well as helping them with the sorting and getting them ready," said Major Amick.
You've helped keep Bob Gregory's Coats for Kids campaign strong for 23 years, and even when times are tough, Hoosiers always take care of our kids.
"I have to say, that's what I so love about Indianapolis. People respond when the need is greatest," Gregory said.