LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston Coat Drive organizer Jeff Friedman, known locally as “The Coat Guy,” expects this fifth season to collect more scarves, hats and gloves than ever before. In an effort to surpass last season’s collection of more than 2200 garments, the Livingston Football Parents Association (LFPA) is hosting a drop-off point for donations at the varsity home games on Friday, Oct. 16 and Friday, Oct. 23.
The LFPA, the parent organization committed to supporting the Livingston High School football program, will have a table just past the ticket booth to accept clean, gently used or new coats, hats, scarves, gloves and mittens for men, women and children. Livingston resident and LFPA President Jennifer Weiss will organize the effort, which has been directed by Friedman’s neighbor and former LFPA President Adam Slavitt during the past two seasons.
According to volunteers, the LFPA plans to build on its 2013 and 2014 successes by collecting and donating a record number of coats and accessories in the coming weeks.
“I had a business that collected a lot of coats for Jeff and my son was involved in football, so it just was a natural match,” said Slavitt. “The past two years have been great and the president said that she would participate again this year so I’m really happy.”
The Livingston Coat Drive, which has been “providing warmth to poor, homeless and disenfranchised” since 2010, has expanded this year in Livingston, Montclair, Roseland and now Springfield. Neighboring community residents Debbi Riccardello, LHS class of 1974, and Laura Sheppard, LHS class of 1971, joined returning coat-drive volunteers Bob Gebroe, Candi Samansky and Joyce Friedman this year.
According to Friedman, Riccardello and Sheppard’s involvement is vital, as the Livingston Coat Drive is now accepting men’s dress clothing on a regular basis, which will increase volume, deliveries and multiple tasks at hand.
Riccardello commented, “I would love to use some of my free time to help the poor and homeless.” Sheppard added, “This is an important community outreach effort that I want to be part of.”
“It’s inspiring that the mission of the Livingston Coat Drive is a close match to the strong message delivered by Pope Francis in Washington, New York and Philadelphia,” said Friedman. “The Pope’s strong advocacy for the poor and homeless is a universal message which has little to do with religion. Our exceedingly generous neighbors, who will continue to dig deep into their closets and storage, is an excellent way in which to bring his words home.”
Joyce Friedman of Upper Montclair, Friedman’s sister-in-law, will provide private pick-up in her town and West Orange Jewelers, located at 16 Eisenhower Parkway in Roseland. For private pick-up in Livingston, contact Jeff Friedman at firstname.lastname@example.org; and in Montclair, contact Joyce Friedman at email@example.com.
“It’s time to be introspective. It’s time to do the right thing,” said Friedman. “I ask those who enjoy a bountiful life to share with those who don’t. The weather is getting ready to change. Who among us can imagine not having a warm coat, even in 50 degree weather?”