FARMINGTON — Several hundred children from San Juan County will be a little warmer this winter thanks to a local club.
Rio del Sol Kiwanis Club has been hosting a coat drive over the last several weeks. On Saturday, organizers distributed the coats, gloves, hats and other outerwear to children at the Farmington Fire Station 6, located at 3101 W. Main St.
In past years, the coat drive was put on by a former Kiwanis club, said Robert David, the chairperson for the coat drive and president elect of the Rio del Sol Kiwanis Club.
"Since the focus of Kiwanis is on children, we thought it would be good to start it up again," David said.
By 9 a.m., there was a line outside the fire house, David said. Because organizers didn't want people to stand out in the cold, they opened the fire house doors and kicked off the distribution an hour early.
Schools, shelters and other organizations selected more than 300 children who received coats on Saturday.
In November, those same children were taken shopping for clothes. On Saturday, those children received free coats, and they were invited to bring family members who also needed coats.
"When a parent is crying because they are so grateful or a kid comes up and gives you a hug, it just melts your heart," David said.
In addition to getting coats, the children could talk to Santa and received a cup of hot chocolate and a candy cane.
"We didn't know how many to expect," said Jill McQueary, secretary of the Kiwanis club.
Many children have at least one sibling, if not more, so organizers weren't sure how many coats would be distributed, McQueary said.
McQueary said people who were not identified as needing coats were able to go to the fire station at 2 p.m. to pick out a coat, but the club wanted to make sure the children who had been selected received coats first.
Farmington resident Jonathan Reed said his three children -- Jakeem, 9; Jonathan, 8; and Genesis, 7 -- attended previous coat drives, as well as the one on Saturday.
"They always want to go," he said.
The children heard about the event via Northeast Elementary School.
In past years, Jonathan Reed said the family has bought coats from stores before, but that gets expensive.
"It seems like they're more and more each year," he said.
Other children at Saturday's coat distribution attended it for the first time.
Misty Meikle's family has had some difficult times this year. When her husband lost his job, the family moved out of their home to live with Meikle's mom.
But now things are looking up for the Meikles. Two weeks ago, Misty Meikle's husband got a new job.
Still, when McCoy Elementary School gave one of her children a letter inviting them to pick out coats, the family accepted. Misty Meikle took her three children -- Angel, 5; Christopher, 3; and Nevaeh, 9 -- to select their new coats on Saturday.
Angel Meikle said she likes that her new coat will keep her warm.
The Meikle children had about 1,000 coats to choose from and more than 50 volunteers to help them select the perfect one.
Among the volunteers who helped families select coats were members of the Piedra Vista High School tennis team.
Alison Goff, the coach of the girls' team, said it was an opportunity to give back to the community for all the support it gives schools.
"Life is not all about sports," Goff said.
Sophomore Brandy McCoy, who is on the tennis team, said she felt good volunteering at the event.
"I don't think people help people enough," McCoy said.
McCoy and her teammates showed up at 7 a.m. to carry piles of coats into the fire station. They stayed until everyone who showed up at the station had a coat.
"I'm really glad we got to do this," McCoy said. "We should do this more."