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More than 500 people found coats to stay warm for winter at TrueNorth Community Services’ Coats for Kids (& Adults) distribution event Saturday, November 11.

People were waiting to get in as much two hours before the start of the annual beneficial giveaway at the TrueNorth Service Center in Fremont. That wasn’t an easy thing to do on an overcast morning with 21-degree temperatures and a 13-degree wind chill at nearby Fremont Municipal Airport, according to the National Weather Service’s Grand Rapids office.

“We had people waiting in the cold for nearly two hours,” said Phil Gabel, Volunteer and Special Projects Coordinator for TrueNorth. “We had lines that were wrapped around the building.”

The reasons to wait were straightforward for participants like Deana Ellesen, a Newaygo resident who attended along with her four-month-old son and a couple other family members.

“We came here to get coats because we had none,” she said. “We had no money” to buy any and the coat she had “started to wear and tear.”

Gabel pointed out that fits the Coats for Kids (& Adult) program’s purpose “to ensure everyone in Newaygo County stays safe and warm this season.”

It took the seven people in her family nearly 45 minutes to find what they needed for this winter, said Kate McCarthy, of Newaygo. Her contingent included  four adults and  three children, ages 14, 10 and 3 years old.

“We came because we have a large family and it’s kind of expensive to make sure everybody’s warm during winter,” she said. “We found just about everything we needed to stay warm.

“And I’m really appreciative of everybody at TrueNorth for offering programs like this. You have no idea.”

Nearly two dozen volunteers were on hand for the event, Gabel said.

There were 150 more participants for Coats for Kids (& Adults) this year than in 2016, he said. Final figures are not going to be available for at least a couple weeks.

The coats available were contributed during a nearly month-long donation drive at nearly four dozen locations across Newaygo County in Fremont, Grant, Hesperia, Newaygo, and White Cloud and through monetary contributions from Fremont Area Community Foundation, Gerber Foundation along with families, groups, and individuals from greater Newaygo County.

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