NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With the cold weather here to stay for a while, hundreds of New Yorkers in need looked to the Bowery Mission on Tuesday to help warm them up.
CBS2’s Charlie Cooper spoke to some of those people who waited in line for free new winter coats.
A line stretched around the corner as people braved the cold, some of them for hours, as the Bowery Mission gave away 1,400 coats to those in need.
“If the Bowery Mission wasn’t giving out any coats right now, I would probably be in the train station, probably panhandling trying to make ends meet,” Sean Graham said.
“Probably be looking in a dumpster or something for something to wear or some thrift store,” Tony McLean said.
The line, although crowded, proved to a better alternative for many of the people standing in it.
“It’s worth it to me because I’m homeless, first of all, and the Bowery Mission has been good to me,” Graham said.
“No matter how you look or smell, they say come in,” another man said.
Hundreds of people waited and many showed up as early as 6 a.m. The coat giveaway was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. but kicked off hours early because of the massive crowd.
“We knew that we’d have a lot of people show up. We didn’t expect them to show up so early and we’re grateful to the New York Police Department for coming out and helping us with the line,” James Winans, with the Bowery Mission, said.
Dozens of officers manned the doors and kept the line moving outside, while families filed in to get their winter coats. Some were so grateful, they were moved to tears.
“I see a lot of people without the proper clothes and this and that. For me, one jacket’s enough,” one man said.
“No one in our city needs to be homeless, so we’re inviting people to a longer-term life change. The coat is the first step,” Winans said.
For many waiting, that life change is already top of mind.
“I don’t plan on being homeless forever. I’m trying to work my way out of this homelessness. Just a stepping stone to get where I got to go,” Graham said.
The Bowery Mission ensuring he can get there both warm and comfortably.