Baby it’s cold outside: Coat drive begins with kids

Vanessa Sampson, (r) and her friend Kimani Chowden, (l) both second graders, show off new coats. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Children from P.S. 188 on Manhattan’s East Side lined up in a large room where racks of coats from New Yorker Cares were hanging, and one by one, each child tried one on.

For the last 31 years, New York Cares have channeled the generosity of city residents into its annual coat drive. Last year, they distributed their two millionth coat, and this year, the goal is to collect 100,000 new or gently-used coats for people who need them, which include those who receive care from social service agencies, students at public schools, residents of transitional housing shelters and anyone else who really needs a coat for the winter.

Teacher Cara Rochwarger reached up into the racks and helped students from her second-grade class try on some of the coats, many still with tags on them.

“Some of the them don’t have coats or come to school with torn, ripped coats and some come with sweatshirts,” Rochwarger said. “They come to school with no coats and they are going outside even when it’s cold. They don’t get to go shopping and choose what they want to keep their bodies warm and so they are happy to get them.”

Teacher Cara Rochwarger with her second grade class at P.S. 188 and their new coats thanks to NY Cares. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Vanessa Sampson, 7, a second grader, tried on an aquamarine snow jacket and smiled.

“Well, I love it,” she said as she twirled around for all to see. “It’s one of my favorite colors. I like pink purple and aquamarine. I had a silver coat with pink on bottom, but I really like this one.”

Assisting again this year with the coat drive is the NYPD and Commissioner James O’Neill, who joined New York Cares executive director Gary Bagley to encourage residents to donate their coats for needy adults and children. More than 100 children at P.S. 188 on East Houston Street received a coat.

Thousands of coats are collected at every precinct in the city, Commissioner O’Neill said.

“As winter’s cold weather arrives, no one should be without a warm coat,” Commissioner O’Neill said. “Our police officers work every day to help their fellow New Yorkers, a spirit of public service that is reflected in this compassionate NY Cares tradition. The NYPD is proud to bring a measure of comfort to our city’s neediest.”

New York Cares Executive Director Gary Bagley talks about the new coats as NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill listens. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

New York Cares is also working with the Department of Education in their effort to collect coats.

Bagley pointed out that there are 114,000 children in schools that are living in temporary housing and many more who are living at the poverty line. About 10,000 coats will go directly to children in public schools as was done today at P.S. 188.

“As temperatures drop, it is our duty to help many students and their families without protection from the cold,” Bagley said. “For the past 31 years, Cares has enabled thousands of volunteers to perform acts of warmth, carrying on the tradition of helping neighbor helping neighbor, and bettering the lives of New Yorkers.”

Coats can be donated through the end of the year at any police precinct 24 hours a day at the New York Cares warehouse at 157 West 31st St.; the Penn Station Long Island Railroad concourse; the New York Cares office at 65 Broadway and at one of 200 Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association dealerships. Residents can also make a donation to New York Cares on their website at www.newyorkcares.org/coat-drive

Anastasia Coleman, 3 grade 8years old, second grade, tries on her new coat. (Photo by Todd Maisel)
Children try on new coats thanks to NY Cares. (Photo by Todd Maisel)