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Pandemic brings challenges, generosity for kids' charities

Saturday, October 17 is this year's Coats for Kids distribution day.

A big weekend is coming up for hundreds of children, thanks to your generosity.

It's Coats for Kids distribution day on Saturday, Oct. 17. 

On Tuesday, volunteers went shopping for new coats to give away, using your donations.

They said this year, in particular, brought challenges, changes and also increased giving.

The piles of donated coats purchased Tuesday are needed more than ever, making sure children stay warm this winter.

Even with many families struggling, the Salvation Army said Hoosiers have stepped up.

"Thanks to the generosity of people, the money donations were even larger than what we expected," said Steve Arnold with Classic Cleaners.

Because of those donations, new coats were purchased. 

"We're anticipating giving out about 1,800 coats to kids this year and about one-third of them are going to be brand new coats, and that's a direct result of people not shopping as much themselves but donating in dollars," Maj. Marc Johnson from the Salvation Army of Indiana said. 

The Salvation Army, Channel 13 and Classic Cleaners teamed up to make this happen for local kids.

But 2020 has posed challenges.

Volunteers are masked up, and on Saturday, those helpers and families receiving coats will have a different, safer experience.

"We are working remotely and we have hands-free distribution of coats for kids," explained Salvation Army volunteer Jay Brill. "So they drive up, they pick up their coats at the fairgrounds. They smile and stay warm through the winter."

There is still a need for volunteers on distribution day on Saturday to make sure this program has maximum impact. And the Salvation Army is also looking ahead to the holidays.

The Angel Tree program gives children gifts for Christmas. Donations are being taken right now. Distribution has also been changed by COVID-19.

"We've also gone to an appointment system for that, for registration," Maj. Johnson said. "It's going to be a much more seamless process for the recipients to receive those gifts, just like the coats."

They said Hoosiers are adapting but still helping families in need.

If you'd like to volunteer for Distribution Day this Saturday, you can sign up here.

To learn more about the Angel Tree program, including donation and volunteer opportunities, click here.

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