Niagara Gazette — Coats For Kids is about making sure every child and adult in Niagara Falls has a warm winter coat when the weather turns south.
Every year, the father and son team of Joe and Russell Petrozzi watch as thousands of new and gently used coats flood the storage areas at Capitol Cleaners on Main Street, helping them prepare for any number of individuals looking for assistance.
But Saturday's first distribution was dampened by a day of rain, keeping many families who need the warmth away and the coat racks full of unclaimed merchandise.
"It's a little slower than it usually is because of the weather," Russell Petrozzi, owner of Capitol Cleaners, said. "The rain kept people away this morning."
"Normally, we're bombed in the morning, but because of the rain, we had a steady, slower flow of people," his father, Joe Petrozzi, said.
How low was this year's turnout? Together with volunteers from the St. Vincent DePaul Society, they handed out 188 coats to 77 adults and 119 children. Though the numbers seem impressive, volunteers said they usually see 300 or more coats distributed on a clear day.
But those who need the help the most aren't limited to just this one day. A second distribution day has been set up for those who weren't able — or chose not — to get out of the house.
They'll also be distributing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday Nov. 24 at Capitol Cleaners' 1227 Main St. location.
In addition, Russell Petrozzi said several schools in the area will also receive coats, which they'll be able to distribute to children as they see fit. Any unclaimed larger, adult coats will be given to AMVETS or taken by the St. Vincent DePaul Society.
So even if people don't visit for distributions, there are still ways to get warmth this winter, he said.