About 330 families came through the Salvation Army's doors Wednesday to browse through hundreds of free winter coats.
Jean jackets, trenchcoats, windbreakers and fleece in all sizes hung on the racks, and by the afternoon, about 60 to 70 percent of the day's stock was gone, said Dennis Camuti, corps officer at the York City location. It was the busiest he's seen the event in his four years there, he said.
"It's been very busy. I was really shocked to see the number of people lined up outside the building," Camuti said.
Spreading the warmth: It was the first year John Bojarski of Spring Garden Township came to check out the coats. He came to look for himself, his fiancée, his son and daughter, coming up short on three-quarters of the mission.
"But I found something," Bojarski said.
After sifting through the racks, he finally settled on a long tan coat with lots of pockets and a red plaid hood. He wore it out of the building.
"The Salvation Army does a lot," he said. "They do a lot to help the community."
And Anthony Ferguson of York City was searching for coats for himself and his girlfriend. He's used the program in the past when he needed to, he said.
"It's a good thing for kids and adults," Ferguson said.
After all, good winter coats can be expensive, he said.
"It's great because it's a lot of people out there that don't have the help," he said.
Giving back: Between Wednesday's and Thursday's distributions, the Salvation Army has more than 1,500 coats to give away. It's been doing this for more than 20 years, Camuti said.
Most of the coats were collected as part of last year's WGAL 8's Coats for Kids campaign and cleaned by members of the Pennsylvania Dry Cleaners Association, which the program couldn't exist without, he said.
"We are certainly grateful for all the donors. I hope they feel good about what they've done," Camuti said.
And coats for next year will be collected from Nov. 15 to Dec. 13. Families can take coats in good condition to participating dry cleaners in the York area: Devono's Cleaners, Hanna Cleaners and Zips Dry Cleaners. They will accept up to three coats from a family and clean them for free for The Salvation Army.
And more coats are always a good thing, he said.
"I think the need is readily apparent, and it would be wonderful to have a larger stock," Camuti said.
More coats: The Salvation Army will continue to distribute winter coats to families from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at its location, 114 S. Duke St. in York City.
- Reach Mollie Durkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.