Winter got warmer Thursday for 9-year-old Natalie Angeles of Aurora.
She and her siblings were among nearly 2,000 recipients of free winter coats through the Coats for Kids drive sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Aurora, city officials and other community groups.
"This one, I think, is warmer," Natalie said about the new pink parka she selected.
Volunteers helped children find coats in their size Thursday afternoon during the coat drive's second-to-last distribution day at the Fred Rodgers Community Center.
Recipients chose from piles of coats purchased new from Wal-Mart using about $16,200 raised by Kiwanis members, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, aldermen Scheketa Hart-Burns and Juany Garza, and area business people.
While the coat drive focused on keeping kids warm, in some cases their parents also were eligible for free coats. School social workers notified coat drive organizers of which children and families were in need.
"You can't send a child home with a coat if the mom and dad don't have a coat, so we take care of that, too," said Mavis Bates, president of the Kiwanis Club of Aurora.
The parents of 8-year-old Lizbeth Amezquita-Pintor of Aurora were among adults who found new outerwear Thursday. The coats would keep the family, which is expecting another child, warm through the winter, said Lizbeth's father, Fernando Amezquita.
About 800 people from the city's near east side got new coats through last year's drive, but this year, organizers expanded it to serve families at 20 schools in Indian Prairie Unit District 204, East Aurora District 129 and West Aurora District 131.
As families browsed coats for the right fit, Aurora businessman Scott Voris, president and CEO of Kelmscott Communications, made a $2,500 donation to help offset the cost.
"Obviously there's a lot of families that fell on hard times," Voris said. "We're happy to be part of a great cause."