The New York Cares annual coat drive is in its 25th year and hoping to collect 110,000 new or gently used coats for those in need, but donations this year have not been coming in the way they have in the past. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
Space at a warehouse on West 31st Street is usually filled with donated coats for volunteers to sort this time of year, but right now, there are only a few bins full.
"Donations are down by 35 percent from where we usually are at this time of the year," said Gary Bagley, executive director of New York Cares. "We only have 8,500 coats in hand."
That is a problem, since New York Cares has received requests for some 100,000 coats from 400 different agencies around the five boroughs.
The campaign started in mid-November, a week earlier than usual, and will continue beyond the usual December 31 end time, but there is still a lot of work to be done to make sure those in need have warm coats on cold winter days, especially children's and large sizes for men.
"We are collecting through February 7 as part of our partnership with the Super Bowl Host Committee and the Super Community Coat Drive this year, but we will certainly need them then, but we need many, many coats right now," Bagley said.
So why are donations down this year? New York Cares believes it could be related to the overwhelming response last year to Hurricane Sandy.
"People may feel, you know, 'I cleaned out my closet last year and donated, I gave money last year, this year, things are a little better,' but that's really not true, and there are so many people who are still without coats, working families who, trying to make ends meet," said volunteer Ann Shalof.
"We have had distribution events now where we have brought 750 or 1,000 coats, and still, people have been waiting in line after they've all been distributed, which is absolutely heartbreaking," Bagley said.
If you want to donate a coat or coats, it's easy. Just go to any police precinct or any of the major transportation hubs. You can also go to the New York Cares website at newyorkcares.org, put in your address or zip code, and it will tell you the closest location to you.