Long lines for winter coat giveaway at The Bowery Mission on Lower East Side

LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A winter coat giveaway drew a big crowd Tuesday at the famous Bowery Mission on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Demand was far greater than anyone planned for, and so many people lined up that the giveaway was started several hours earlier than planned.

The NYPD even showed up to assist with crowd control.

The Bowery Mission usually gives out coats on Thanksgiving, but held off until Tuesday.

"I was in the park and a friend came up and told me, you want a free coat, go around the block. I came down," said Dray Hall. "It'll make a difference, it'll be a warmer Christmas."
Hall got on line around noon, though the giveaway wasn't supposed to begin until later in the afternoon.

Every year an anonymous donor provides the coats, and this year there were 1,800 brand new coats, never worn coats available.

Many of those who lined up also come for meals at The Bowery Mission.

While not everyone there is homeless, many live in poverty, and a warm coat is an expense they can't afford.

So this act of kindness certainly goes a long way.

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