This year marked New York Cares’ 26th annual coat drive, and the charity has had 100,000 requests for coats from social services this winter.
The charity was established in the late 1980s in an effort to deal with some of the serious social issues that prevail in New York. It coordinates volunteer programs for 1300 nonprofits, city agencies, and public schools across the city.
Executive Director of the charity, Gary Bagley, feels they’re currently on-track to meet the usual figure of 70,000–80,000 coats that are requested every year. He’s hopeful of reaching social service’s request because of the various coat drives they’ve conducted since November.
The coat drives will run until the end of December, and the coats are being donated to some of New York’s more needy citizens, including the working poor, as well as thousands of homeless who must navigate the streets of New York during the freezing winter.
Since the homeless don’t have the convenience of reaching into a closet and taking their winter coat out of storage, they will be relying upon the generosity of donators.
To avoid the initiative becoming simply a dump for unwanted coats, Bagley asks that donators assess their coats to determine if they would wear the potential donations out in public on a very cold day.
In addition, the charity hopes that donators will wash or dry-clean the garments, so they’re in good enough condition to hand directly over to those in need.
The coats are sorted into men’s, women’s, and childrens’ coats at the charity’s central warehouse in Manhattan, which is donated by Vornado Realty Trust.
Social service agencies pick up the coats directly from the warehouse for distribution. In each borough, there are also distribution centers where needy individuals can pick up coats personally.
On the morning of December 23rd, the charity received its largest single donation from a corporate group, as more than 3,000 coats were brought to their warehouse by the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association (GNYADA).
GNYADA got involved with New York Cares 3 years ago, and, as association president Mark Scheinberg explains, they “reached out to the 425 dealerships the association represents, and are pleased with the 10,000 coats they’ve collected over these past 3 years.
“In the beginning, employees were donating, but last year we brought the coat drive to the attention of customers and car manufacturers, and the response has been great,” said Scheinberg.
He explained that new car dealerships, embedded in smaller urban areas, are becoming focal points for business so it makes sense that they would have a network of customers to ask for donations.
“They can generate a lot of enthusiasm via all these connections, and quite frequently get involved with establishing local parks or children’s playgrounds.”
Once the coat drive came to the attention of the car dealers and their networks, many customers were going out and buying coats specifically to donate, with one dealer donating 1400 coats on his own, Scheinberg was pleased to report.
“The New York community is quite special in this sense. Perhaps there are a lot of people out there with some disposable income, and with a wish to do good by others. On top of that, car dealerships tend to be good drop-off points for people to leave their coats.”
The Auto Dealers Association wanted to demonstrate that it’s possible to have a major influence in charity drives.