AUSTIN -- Before the sun rose over the Austin sky Saturday morning thousands of families lined up, as far as the eye could see, outside the Palmer Events Center. Some had been there since 9:45 Friday night. All waiting for this the 26th annual Coats for Kids distribution day.
"It's an amazing tradition in the Austin community," said Austin Junior League President Cathy McHorse. "We're so happy to work with our partners, KVUE, KASE and Jack Brown Cleaners and to work with the community. As well as to continually bring out more than 2,500 volunteers."
Among those volunteers is Leticia Contreras. A first-timer who's signed up for double duty, both passing out coats and registering families. For her, this event is more than your average community service project.
"This is very meaningful for me because as a little girl, I used to come year after year with my family and I would receive my jacket for winter," said Contreras.
She is one of six kids.
"I remember like waking up early and having to wait in line, but I was really excited to receive a free coat," said Contreras. "It helped a lot for our family, who couldn't afford to buy us a coat every year."
And the program is still helping families. Senthera Harper has six foster children, all girls.
"They don't care about standing in the line, they want their coats. And then they get to get in here and make their own selection, so that makes it even better," said Harper.
Central Texans stepped up, donating more than 34,000 coats, so there will be plenty left over. The surplus will go to other organizations in the Austin community that help families in need.
"Their clients may not be able to get here today, and we provide the coats to them to deliver to those in need." said McHorse.
A community taking care of its own. An action that has forever touched the life of one Austin woman.
"I was just thinking about, wow, I can volunteer and give back to the community a little bit of what has been given to me," said Contreras.