AUSTIN - Thousands of Austin-area families braved the cold Saturday morning to wait in line at the Palmer Events Center for the 31st annual Coats for Kids Distribution Day.
"It's better than Christmas," said Rachel Zander, chair of this year's event.
Thanks to the generous community, thousands of hours of hard work and a team of volunteers, every child at the center -- some who came bundled in blankets -- will leave with winter coats.
"This is like the feel-good moment of the year," said Julie Hall, president of the Junior League of Austin, which sponsors the event.
Together with the Junior League of Austin, KVUE viewers, Jack Brown Cleaners and KVET collected more than 35,000 coats.
"Last year we gave over 34,000 and we knew that the Austin community is the most generous community, so we set a goal of 35,000 and we didn't jut pass it, we smashed our goal," said Zander. "So 35,580 coats is what we're going to give away."
Each coat was cleaned by Jack Brown Cleaners and sorted by size.
After families filled out a form showing they have a need, they get to shop.
"Each family gets paired up with a volunteer so you have your own volunteer helping you shop, they're showing you where the coats you need are," Zander explained.
"Sometimes the moms and the kids disagree on what's the best coat, but they all get, it's they're choice. They get to take, leave with whatever they want and that's an experience a lot of these kids don't get to have," she added.
But organizers say it's not the kids who are walking away with the greatest benefit; the volunteers are.
"In fact I was at Rundburg on Thursday night when we were delivering coats and a little girl looked at me and she goes 'two miracles in a day, snow and a coat' and I cried," said Hall. "It was awesome."
Proving it really is better to give than receive this holiday season.
Coats left over from Distribution Day will be donated to organizations around Austin that help the less fortunate.
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