Josh Blessing

Residents of the Muncie community will be a little bit warmer this winter thanks to the Ball State men's basketball team hosting the first Coats For Cardinals.

Any fan who comes to tonight's game against Texas Southern University and brings a coat of any size, age and gender upon entrance will receive one free ticket to the game.

Aaron Vaughn, the men's basketball manager and creator of Coats For Cardinals, said this has been something he's wanted to do for several years.

"I knew that this event would be an opportunity to benefit those in the Muncie community who have been experiencing tough times," he said. "We all hit that point in our lives where things aren't going your way and this is where I knew this basketball program could ease some of those struggles."

Vaughn said there was no hesitation by coach Billy Taylor when he first brought up the idea. He said the character he's learned from Taylor over the years inspired him to take on the community project.

Taylor reiterated the importance of Ball State staying involved in the community. He said Coats For Cardinals is a great way for his team to give back and help the program become well rounded.

"We want our guys to be great basketball players, but we also want them to be young men," he said. "The only way they can be men of character is being involved in their community and being aware of what's going on."

The Cardinals have partnered with Union Chapel and "Hearts & Hands United" to distribute all the coats received to the Muncie community.

"Coats For Cardinals is an opportunity for the community to really be a part of something special and keep Muncie warm this winter," Vaughn said. "This is an event that all of Muncie can be proud to call their own for years to come."