The doors of the Martin Luther King Civic Center in East Cleveland were supposed to open at 4 p.m. Tuesday for needy families to pick up food for Thanksgiving and coats for their children.

But by 2 p.m., 200 people were already lined up outside.

The coat drive was organized by members of the East Cleveland Police Department.

“We saw when it was getting cold, we actually saw the kids walking to school with no coats,” Officer Lakessa Gholston said. “These kids, literally, 6 o’clock, 7 o’clock in  the morning walking to school, and we’re cold so we know that they’re cold.”

The officers were able to collect more than 200 brand new and gently used coats, all from donations.

“During Biblical times, there were loaves and fishes and today, there’s the city of East Cleveland,” Mayor Gary Norton said.

“The individual residents of East Cleveland gave to the coat drive. Walmart reduced the price. Our police officers gave out of their own pockets. I gave personally. Those of us who have been blessed and put in a position to give, we all gave,” he said.

Gholston is overwhelmed by the generosity of the community she serves.

“I had no idea that people cared so much,” she said. “The people in the community really care about these children and it made me feel like this is definitely a wonderful place to be”

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