PROVIDENCE, R.I. — While some shoppers were spending Black Friday at the mall, hundreds of people in need picked winter coats off racks on the Statehouse lawn during Rhode Island’s annual “Buy Nothing Day.”

The goal of Friday’s 19th annual winter coat exchange was to provide warm coats to those who need them and highlight the negative effects of consumerism, event spokesman Greg Gerritt said.

The event got its start in Vancouver, Canada, as a protest against consumerism, and is now marked on the day after Thanksgiving in some places in the U.S. In Rhode Island, Gerritt estimated, thousands of coats would be given away, but he said a precise count isn’t kept.

“It’s always amazing, the generosity of the donors and volunteers,” he said.

“We have so much need in this society.”

Mary Baker, of Johnston, donated a car trunk full of coats. She said she has donated roughly the same amount each year for six years.

“It’s good that we take a day not to buy something and give to others instead,” she said.

Amanda Bruscini, of Providence, went to the exchange to find winter coats for her two daughters. She said she can’t afford coats in the mall.

“Coats go for $100. I can’t right now, not with this economy,” she said while standing in line, waiting her turn to search the racks. “It’s great that they do this. There are so many people here.”