If you’re not familiar with Coats for Kids — you really are missing out.

For 26 years now, the annual campaign started by Tuchman Cleaners has helped put coats on thousands upon thousands of children in central Indiana. It’s a partnership between WTHR, Bob Gregory and The Salvation Army that continues to grow and flourish year after year.

Coats for Kids even sparked a complimentary campaign hosted by WIBC and CarX. The Share the Warmth campaign ran throughout the month of September as a way to collect hats, gloves and scarves for all the children receiving coats.

Today is finally distribution day.

Volunteers and coat seeking families lined up in the wee hours of the morning, long before the sun started to rise. At 8 a.m., the first families walked through the doors of the Horticulture Agriculture Building at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Many of the children were wrapped in blankets to keep warm while waiting out in the chilly morning air.

Once inside the doors, children were greeted by Colts cheerleaders and volunteers. Each family was directed to a volunteer who took them through the racks to find the perfect jacket. Even Bob Gregory and Blue from the Colts spent the morning guiding children through the racks of coats.

At first site, the distribution may appear to just be a scene of organized chaos, but every detail of the day was carefully planned and organized.

The somewhat unexpected result of the day was in the emotion of children, parents and volunteers. It’s in the eyes and smile on each child’s face when he or she tried on that one perfect jacket. It’s in the sigh of relief let out by the parent. It’s in the growing warmth found in the heart of every volunteer.

Who knew a coat could hold so much meaning?

Of course, it’s not just a single jacket that children walk out with on distribution day. They also leave equipped with a light-weight jacket, a hat, scarf and gloves — everything that child needs to stay warm though the cooler months.

If you still don’t understand what Coats for Kids is all about — then you need to find out for yourself. Bring a child. Volunteer. Share a story.