KARM holds annual "Coats for the Cold" coat giveaway

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Thousands of people lined up at the KARM Thrift Store to get free coats from its annual "Coats for the Cold" coat drive. Organizers said the need for good, warm coats in the area is great.

"I work part-time and I'm trying to take care of some family of my own, and I'm really proud that they're helping me," said Ralonda Brown, who was picking out coats for her family.

From adults to kids, the jackets come in all sizes:

"It's a lot of help. I just moved and it's tight with Christmas coming, so it's a really big help - I'm a single mom!" said Christie Bennton, who was getting jackets for her two young sons.

Over 11,000 coats were donated this year, and all of them were cleaned.

"We're putting a gently-used or new coat that has been dry-cleaned by the great folks over at Prestige Cleaners in the hands of those people who need a winter coat and we're just delighted to be able to do it," said Burt Rosen, KARM's president and CEO.

Volunteers helped people shop for the jackets, including several from Local 8 News.

"It's the first time I've been here. And it's really nice for them to pass out coats to everyone - it's a good thing," said Billy Underwood, who was picking out coats with his family.

Everyone had similar messages for those who make the drive possible each year:

"It's a big help for the poor people to have coats in here," said Margie Gonzalez, who was picking out jackets for herself and her children.

"Thank KARM here for putting this "Coats for the Cold" on," said Lanita Rorrer.

"Thankful - whatever I get from everybody, I'm always thankful. I really appreciate this time," said Brown.

Organizers said coats that weren't given away during the drive will be used to help people in need throughout the year.

"Coats for the Cold" started 27 years ago, after organizers heard that a homeless man had frozen to death on Knoxville's streets.

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