“Since I was born, anything I saw in turquoise, I wanted it,” she said holding up her new turquoise coat Sunday afternoon at the People Attempting to Help (PATH) Coats for Kids distribution day.
Nearby, 3-year-old Tracey Joachin's brother Esmaider, 15, helped her put on a bright purple coat. The coat was big enough to offer some growing room but was the little girl's favorite color.
Esmaider Joachin also tried on a few styles for his older brother, Bladimir.
“People say we look alike, like we are twins,” he said. “We are the same height and everything.”
Becky Duncan, PATH community outreach coordinator in charge of the project, said she estimates about 3,000 coats were donated or purchased this year for needy families in Smith County.
Throughout Saturday and Sunday, between 1,400 and 1,500 coats were given out to children in the Mamie G. Griffin Elementary school gymnasium, along with donated blankets, knitted hats and vouchers for new books at the Tyler Public Library.
Coats that were not chosen will be distributed to various clothes closets in Smith County. Ms. Duncan said all of the coats collected will go to children in need.
Duncan said the coats could not come at a better time for area families.
Ms. Duncan said Coats for Kids is her favorite event of the year, because she gets to see the faces of the children who are helped, where as with other projects, the goods are distributed by others.
“I love to see the faces of the volunteers that are here as well as much as I love to see the face of the children who are receiving, because for every adult that has a great experience giving, they will go back and give again …” she said. “That means as much to me as the children who are receiving (the coats).”
Ms. Duncan said more than 100 volunteers turned out to help, bringing coats of various sizes and colors for each child to choose from.
Among the volunteers were Texas College student Desmond Wilson, 23, of New Orleans.
“We are doing this for the heart of it,” he said.
Rodd Wayne Moffett volunteered his time on Sunday. He said there were three components to why he came to help.
“It's always the smile of a child who got a new coat, the look of relief in the eyes of the mother knowing her child is going to be warm, and the light in the eyes of volunteers,” he said.