BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The first Coats 4 Kids distribution event of the year started at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Knights of Columbus building on Kenmore Avenue.
Long before that, though, families were crowded into the building’s anterooms and even out the front doors, waiting to get into the gym to pick out the coats they needed.
Even after the event started, the crowd continued to grow, with a line stretching out into the parking lot by 10:30 a.m.
Organizers say they were not surprised by the turnout.
“We know so many people from other countries, immigrants and refugees, come to the Buffalo area through a lot of different agencies, and a lot of these people have never seen or been in cold weather before,” said Colvin Cleaners President Paul Billoni.
All of the people who turned out Saturday were there to get what they needed to stay safe and warm in the cold winter weather.
Coats, hats, gloves and more were donated by community members and cleaned by Colvin Cleaners for people to take.
“It fits right into our wheelhouse of managing clothes. That’s what we do at Colvin Cleaners,” Billoni said, “and there’s a need in the community.”
“And we’re not one to collect and give it to a group,” he added. “We want to make sure it’s getting into the hands of the people that need it.”
For people like Tonawanda resident Denise Vogt, something as simple as a good winter coat can make a huge difference.
Her husband passed away a year and a half ago, and she says between the mounting bills and her own growing health problems, money is very tight.
“Me, I have old clothing. I can’t afford to go buy new clothing,” Vogt told News 4. “I really do need help so this is one big thing for me.”
Colvin Cleaners has been helping provide that for 25 years now through the Coats 4 Kids campaign.
Donations are now collected year round, and Western New Yorkers are always generous.
“We’ve had schools collecting, businesses collecting, all the Allstate offices collect, so we’ve had a whole host of different ways for the coats to come in,” Billoni said.
Donations for this year’s Coats 4 Kids campaign are accepted through December 6, ahead of the final distribution event of the year.
You can learn more about where you can make a donation by clicking here.
You can get a coat or other winter weather gear at two more distribution events this season:
- Saturday, November 23rd
- True Bethel Church
- 907 E Ferry St. Buffalo, NY 14211
- Saturday, December 7th
- The Belle Center
- 104 Maryland St, Buffalo, NY 14201