DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A dozen racks of coats in all colors, styles and sizes lined one room at the St. Vincent de Paul Community Store Friday. WDTN’s 34th annual Coats for Kids campaign collected more than 1,000 winter jackets and accessories. The 2017 haul adds onto the 495,000 articles of winter clothing handed out over the decades-long tradition.
Friday, Jayson Rettich and his girlfriend searched the clothing racks with Living Dayton host Zac Pitts for warm coats for their four young children.
“It’s kind of hard out there these days and anything helps,” Rettich explained. “Keeping our kids warm is very important.”
Families lined up at the Community Store several hours before its 9:00 a.m. open Friday and within the first hour, a line snaked around the chapel near the entrance. Many said they were picking up coats for multiple children.
Branden Glover needed coats for his 8 children and knew it wouldn’t be possible to buy them new.
“It helps a lot. With how much coats cost nowadays, it helps a whole lot,” Glover said of the Coats for Kids campaign. “I was sure I’d be spending over $150 right now, but we can get it for free thanks to everybody that made donations to make this possible.”
Between September 7th and October 13th, Miami Valley residents dropped off donations in 2 News collection barrels around the region. The Cintas Corporation laundered the coats and RUSH Transportation and Logistics transported them, both at no charge.
WDTN and Dayton’s CW anchors handed the articles out Friday morning.
St. Vincent de Paul Director of Development Kristina Heaton expected everything to be given out by early afternoon Friday. The organization is just entering its busiest season, with more than 260 men, women and children currently using St. Vincent shelters.
“There is a need,” Heaton said of the importance of the Coats for Kids drive. “We see it everyday in our shelters, in our food pantry and in our community stores. So there is a big need for it.”
Families at the distribution said they admire the generosity of the Miami Valley donors.
“It’s pretty amazing that they’re out here giving back to the community, just helping people out there struggling,” said Rettich. “And we’re definitely struggling.”