INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - It's a beautiful day outside, but we’re spending the day helping families get ready for winter weather. It’s our annual Coats for Kids drive that goes on until 2 pm at the Blue Ribbon Pavilion at the state fairgrounds.
Hours before the doors opened, families started showing up. Some people thought it was chilly out while they waited, but otherwise the weather was pretty mild. Everyone could agree though that it was early.
“I'm trying to keep my eyes open so I won't have to be sleepy,” said Chrishaun Wray, who is 11 years old.
“It's kind of irritating that I've got to wake up out of my sleep, but it's worth it,” said Rayneka Marbley, who is 11 years old.
They say it was worth it because of what they saw when they got in. Right at 8am, the crowd started heading indoors. Volunteers were ready to help families find the perfect fit.
“I participate every year,” said volunteer Ebony Joyce. “I love to see the kids smile on their faces when they get new coats, so I look forward to it.”
For many, stopping by the Coats for Kids drive is a tradition - either to help people out or pick out a coat. But for Odessey Breaziel, this was the first time.
“It's like if you buy one [coat] one year, the next year they're practically trying to grow out of them, so you have to try and hurry up and get clothes, but it's so hard because everybody needs them,” said Odessey.
She brought her kids to try on something warm. It’s an early holiday gift they could take home today.
“We have a family of six so this was truly a blessing to us,” said Odessey.
“They were very appreciative,” said Ebony. “I just enjoyed helping them.”
Plenty of others walked away with something they liked.
“I think it's good to give back to the community in which you live and work in,” said Ebony. “I'm grateful to be able to be part of it.”
Families and volunteers left the fairgrounds with a warm feeling, from the coats and the joy they felt giving them away.
We’ve already handed out thousands of coats, hats, mittens, gloves and scarves. Bob Gregory was there too and he's amazed this has continued for more than 30 years now.
“Fun to have been part of this for all these years,” said Bob. “It's too bad you still have kids that need a warm coat, but to them, whether it's got a few miles on it or it's brand new, it's the warmth of the giving and the receiving that's the key part of this whole process.”
This giveaway wouldn't be possible without all those coats getting donated in the first place. So we’re grateful to everyone who dropped off one or a few. They will keep all those kids warm - and smiling - all winter long.