TOLEDO, Ohio — Dozens of families stood in line outside Jones Leadership Academy on Saturday to get winter gear for their little ones before the cold weather settles in.
Susie's Coats for Kids hosted a distribution event for area families. All the items were free.
Winter weather can be brutal if you're not dressed for the elements, but sometimes that clothing could break the bank.
"Many times families are trying to decide if they're going to pay their utility bill versus buy their child a coat. So we're taking the coats out of the equation for them because they're expensive," said Susan Perry, Susie's Coats for Kids Founder.
The organization provides brand new coats, gloves, hats and more to ensure area youth stay warm during Ohio's colder months.
"This is our fifteenth year providing for our community, this is our fifteenth anniversary," said Perry. "I think, to date, over 30,000 items have left our hands, at least. in the last 15 years."
The kids say the best part is the variety and being able to pick something that matches their personality.
"My coat is lime green and I got this thing right here and I got some gloves. I got another white scarf and I got one of these things right here, a squishy thing, a bear thing," said Skyee Adkins about the items she picked up. "It was real quick because all the coats was real cute, so it was easy."
Organizers say the need for winter gear has grown since the pandemic started.
"It's my theory, my belief, that if we can keep our children warm, they feel safer and when they feel a little bit safer they're much more hopeful about their tomorrow," said Perry.
Hannah's Socks, Bags of Love and Anita's Closet (Helping Hands of St. Louis) were also in attendance to provide for families.
So far, Susie's Coats for Kids has collected and distributed over 25,000 warm apparel items to children in Lucas, Wood, Fulton, Hancock, and Sandusky counties in Ohio and Monroe County in Michigan.
For more information about this distribution event and its mission, check out Susie's Coats for Kids website.