How to Donate Warm Coats to New Jerseyans in Need This Season

The Jersey Cares Coat Drive, running from November through January, relies heavily on volunteers to distribute warm winter wear to thousands.

Jersey Cares volunteers help sort the thousands of coats collected during the nonprofit’s annual drive. Courtesy of Jersey Cares

A warm coat can make all the difference to a New Jerseyan in need this winter. 

Coats collected through the annual Jersey Cares Coat Drive—which runs from November 8 through January 9 this season—may mean “a child is able to walk to school and not stay home on a really cold day…or an individual is able to go on a job interview during the winter months…or a senior is able get out to the store to get their medicine,” Meagan Mulligan, director of volunteer programs for Jersey Cares, tells New Jersey Monthly.

“It may not seem like a lot to you if it is just an old coat in the back of your closet, but to someone else, that could be a whole season of living,” Mulligan says. “Every single donation really, truly does make a difference to another individual.”

Jersey Cares has been up and running since 1993 and connects volunteers with a variety of nonprofits and opportunities around the state—including the annual coat drive. The nonprofit distributes 20,000 and 30,000 coats each year, relying heavily on volunteers to get the winter wear to New Jerseyans who need them. 

So how can you help this year? The simplest way is to drop off a new or gently used coat to one of Jersey Cares’ dozens of public collection sites around the state, which include public schools, places of worship and police stations. You can also purchase a coat to donate through the Jersey Cares website.

[RELATED: Nonprofit Helps Furnish Homes for the Formerly Homeless]

If you have 10 or more coats to give, you can bring them to one of the group’s 20-foot shipping-container sites located throughout New Jersey. Call 973-533-1993 to receive a shipping-container lock combination. Jersey Cares is also looking for people and service groups to host their own coat drives. 

As coats are donated, volunteers organize and package them so that Jersey Cares’ nonprofit partners can pick up and distribute them at such places as after-school and transitional housing programs, shelters, and food pantries. There are eight locations across the state where volunteers aged 14 and up can help sort the donated coats. Potential volunteers can register online. 

“Without each of those pieces, the drive wouldn’t be what it is,” says Mulligan, describing the event’s many moving parts and participants. 

Some of the donated coats go to people in New Jersey who are homeless, Mulligan says. The population of people experiencing homelessness in New Jersey rose 9 percent from 2019 to 2020, putting us among the five states that saw the greatest increases during that time period, according to a report released earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Read more Giving Back, Jersey Living articles.

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