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New York Cares Hands Out Winter Coats On Christmas Eve

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Just in time for the winter season, hundreds of heavy coats were distributed Tuesday to those in need in Manhattan.

New York Cares volunteers handed out coats at Gay Men's Health Crisis in Midtown for more than 150 homeless men and women during its 31st annual Coat Drive.

"The clients here can come in actually look through the coats find one that they like that they will fit them," said New York Cares Executive Director Gary Bagley. "In a life that may not have many choices right now we consider one of the biggest gifts we can give them a choice today."

And while winter started out relatively mild, we know there will be many cold days ahead.

"It's very beautiful. It's just for me," said Rose Wilford told CBS2's Alice Gainer. "It was the very first coat I picked and it totally had my name on it."

An estimated 60,000 people in New York City will spend the night in a homeless shelter tonight, including 23,000 children.

"People don't understand sometimes that a simple act like owning a coat means that you can go out for your prescriptions you can go out for a job interview you can go visit family and not feel ashamed or too cold," Bagley said.

New York Cares collected 105,000 coats last year. They'd like to surpass that by the end of the calendar year. Currently, they're about halfway there.

There are several ways you can help. You can visit any police precinct through Dec. 31, run a coat collection for new or gently used coats or text the word coat to 474747 to donate $20. You can also donate here.

"I'm very grateful to have it because you know I've been struggling lately and this is a big help to keep me warm this New York winter," said Will Way.

On Christmas Eve, a coat is a simple gift that can make a difference for months.

"I want to wish everybody a great holiday and I really appreciate everybody letting me be here," said Lawrence Siben.

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