Scotch Share the Warmth coat giveaway under way in Lawrence

A crowd forms early outside the I-70 Business Center, where Lawrence residents gathered to try and secure a winter coat. Scotch Dry Cleaners collected and cleaned the coats as part of its Share the Warmth campaign.

Scoth Dry Cleaner began its Share the Warmth campaign with it's public giveaway on Friday, Dec. 4, 2010, at the I-70 Business Center. Early attendees like from left, Claudia Bailon, Rufina Rerez, and Paulina Gonzolez, arrived at 4:00 a.m. hoping to pick up a warm coat for the winter.

Scotch Share the Warmth Coat Giveaway

When: Continues at 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 4.

Where: Salvation Army located at the I-70 Business Center, space No. 119.

Coats are free to anyone in need.

For more information contact Salvation Army at 843-4188.

Shoppers started lining up at 4 a.m. Friday morning to reserve their spot in line for the 24th annual Scotch Cleaners Share the Warmth Giveaway.

By 9 a.m. when the doors at the Salvation Army opened, the line stretched the length of the block.

James Dolton was one of the early shoppers. His first stop was to the sports rack. As Dolton flipped through the jackets, from Dallas Cowboy logos to Green Bay Packers, it was KU he was searching for. While the KU reference was important, Dolton said it was not the only necessary feature he was looking for.

“I want something warm,” Dolton said. “I have to make sure it’s warm first.”

The Scotch giveaway, conducted by the Salvation Army, featured about 3,000 items, from heavy winter coats to light jackets to blankets and accessories. The drive began in October. After collecting for a couple of months and cleaning all the items, the coats were taken to the Salvation Army.

Salvation Army Capt. Susan Dalberg said nearly 500 people showed up last year, but that the interest is evident well before the event.

“When it started getting cold outside people started calling,” Dalberg said.

Dalberg said the center has about 500 or so less coats this year, especially children’s coats.

“I think people are holding onto things longer,” Dalberg said. “We are always short on children’s clothing.”

Crystal Arb dropped off her girls at school and got in line by 7:30 a.m. to make sure her girls would have coats. She said the three girls, ages 6 to 10, like the colors purple, pink and blue.

“I’m just trying to find something the girls would like — something they think would be pretty,” Arb said.

When asked what the event means to her, Arb’s reply was simple.

“It means coats for the girls,” Arb said. “Money is tighter this year and we wouldn’t have the money to buy them otherwise.”

And during difficult economic times, gratitude was not hard to find.

“We’re very grateful for Scotch and for the community that donates,” one shopper said.