Coats given away throughout Rhode Island on Black Friday during 'Buy Nothing' coat exchange

Steps away from the Providence mall where shoppers searched for Black Friday deals, hundreds of people in need picked up winter coats for free.

Donna Walker, of Providence, searched the racks on the Statehouse lawn for a winter coat for herself and her 16-year-old daughter on Friday. The coats in the mall are too expensive, she said.

Eleven sites were set up around Rhode Island for people to give or take a coat during the state's annual "Buy Nothing Day" on Black Friday. The day started in Vancouver as a protest against consumerism and is now marked on the day after Thanksgiving in some places in the U.S.

The goal of the 18th annual winter coat exchange is to provide warm coats to those who need them and highlight the negative effects of consumerism, said event spokesperson Greg Gerritt, an environmental activist from Providence.

David and Jo-Ann Steinbrick asked their relatives to bring the coats they don't need to Thanksgiving. The Cranston couple donated about a dozen coats and some scarves on Friday. They said the exchange is in keeping with the holiday spirit.

"We both think Black Friday is horrendous," she said. "That's not what Thanksgiving and Christmas are about."