A man in Cape Breton has been collecting winter outwear to donate to children during Sydney’s annual Santa Claus Parade for the past 18 years.

Trevor Quinlan is the co-founder of the initiative ‘Coats for Kids’ and he’s collected more than 20,000 coats and distributed them across the island.

Quinlan says coats already started piling up on his doorstep the day before this year’s parade.

“The first year that we started we collected 50 on a go-kart,” says Quinlan. “We are now collecting in a cube van and filling it.”

He came up with the idea when he was eight-years-old while playing outside with a friend on a cold winter day. Quinlan says he remembers his friend was only wearing a spring jacket.

“So I came in and asked my dad if I could give my friend an old winter jacket that I was no longer using and that kind of sparked the idea to start the organization.”

Quinlan says he’s overwhelmed with gratitude for his community because more than 1,700 coats have been collected by volunteers in the last year alone.

“It’s all about going back to the local community and being able to keep Cape Breton warm,” he says. “It’s a nice feeling.”

Quinlan works as a nurse in Halifax and travels five hours back to Sydney each year for the parade.

He says his inspiration to keep the project going each year comes from kids and his father who shared his passion for charity. Quinlan’s father died several years ago after a workplace accident, but his son says he is one of his biggest motivators.

“It's a good feeling to be able to keep his legacy alive. It goes down to the core values he taught us, his two sons, that we take it for granted even just a single thing as a coat.”

Sydney’s annual Santa Claus Parade will kick off at 4 p.m. Saturday.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.