EAST ORANGE/ORANGE, NJ - Outside in the extreme cold, dozens of dedicated volunteers from the Montclair Drifters distributed approximately 100 coats on parking meters on February 16. The group placed the coats along Main Street near Orange City Hall and continued into East Orange to East Orange City Hall to aid individuals and families in need.
The effort led by the Montclair Chapter of Drifters, Inc. with participation from East Orange First Lady Bibi Taylor and Orange First Lady Dr. Karma B. Warren was entitled, “Coffee & Coats” and “Cocoa & Coats.” The launch of this unique initiative arrived at a time of critical need for the homeless population in both towns with the mercury plunging to record low sub-zero temperatures over the weekend and continuing very cold on Monday.
The program was modeled after a program that originated in Nova Scotia last year. When Drifter Joyce Harley, Esq. got the idea to duplicate that program in New Jersey. Known as “Project New,” the program was created to raise awareness for homelessness and the need for people to have warm coats in the winter.
The Montclair Drifters, a community service organization serving East Orange, Orange and greater Essex County, decided to bring “Project New” to East Orange and Orange, renaming it "Coffee & Coats" for adults and "Cocoa & Coats" for children. According to Tracy Munford, President of the Montclair Drifters, the program presented an opportunity for the organization to show how simple and meaningful giving back can be, not just for the homeless, but for anyone in need.
Another feature of this impressive program was the inclusion of donations from Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds. As a special gift, each person receiving a coat also received a special gift in the coat pocket -- a gift card donated by Dunkin Donuts in East Orange and McDonald’s in Orange to purchase coffee or hot chocolate.
Both Mayor Lester Taylor and Mayor Dwayne Warren were in attendance with their respective spouses working hand-in-hand with their wives to distribute the coats to needy residents.