"The Coat Guy" Returns to Action; To Continue Toiletries Collection
Jeff "The Coat Guy" Friedman, founder of the Livingston Coat Drive and the Toiletries Challenge, has announced he will continue the Toiletries Challenge, an ongoing collection of travel-sized toiletries for the homeless. Meanwhile, he is preparing for the annual Coat Drive later in the fall.
The Coat Drive will gear up in mid-October, but Friedman and his fellow volunteers will continue the toiletries collection year 'round.
During Friedman's summer off, long-time Coat Drive volunteer Candi Samansky of Livingston has taken over the Toiletries Challenge. "I guess I need to start working-out for when I get back into the swing of things," Friedman joked. "I'll need to be in better shape to assimilate into Candi's summer pace of volunteerism. Because of her unusual dedication this summer, so many poor, homeless and disenfranchised individuals and families are enjoying a better life!"
In addition to collecting toiletries from the offices of the West Essex Tribune, which has been serving as a drop-off point for donations, Samansky has spent the summer picking up clothing and other donations from Livingston residents. "It's been great fun getting to know people throughout the town," she commented. "Livingston has a reputation as a tough, affluent, and entitled town. But after meeting just the sampling of residents I've picked up donations from this summer, I certainly know that this reputation is not deserved!"
Friedman said, "Now, with Labor Day behind us and summer's heat easing, I'm thinking about the upcoming months of cooler and ultimately outright freezing weather thereafter. And, of course, the extreme need for travel and sample sized toiletry items doesn't go away with the change of seasons. The Livingston Coat Drive will be here to help. To make that happen, we need the continued philanthropy of our generous Livingston residents and those in neighboring communities."
The Coat Drive will resume in early-to-mid October.
"All of us at the Livingston Coat Drive look forward to our continued, strong partnership with the West Essex Tribune," said Friedman. "Let's do it again, Livingston!"
Travel or sample-sized toiletries, and donations of make-up items and feminine hygiene products, may continue being dropped at the West Essex Tribune, 495 South Livingston Avenue, during business hours.
Clothing is also being accepted. Donations of clothing or other items should be coordinated with Friedman and Samansky until the official resumption of the Coat Drive; Tribune staff members will be happy to forward such inquiries. For more information, call the newspaper office at 973-992-1771.
Photo: Candi Samansky, right, and summer volunteers Arinn Shulman and Ally Montalto are shown here with Family Success Center director Kierre Kaiser after dropping off a donation of toiletries and art supplies at the East Orange agency. The art supplies had been donated to the cause by employees of Saint Barnabas Medical Center, and were sorted and delivered in time for the back-to-school season.
Agency in Need
Of School Supplies
The Family Success Center in Newark, a long-time distribution partner of the Livingston Coat Drive, recently opened a new branch called the Weequahic Family Success Center. The new Center is in need of school supplies, and executive director Andrea Todman has asked the community for back-to-school donations, particularly backpacks and all varieties of school supplies.
"The Family Success Center connects families to a community of resources," said Todman in her appeal this week. "Perhaps your readers, who have been such loyal supporters of the Coat Drive and Toiletries Challenge, may have extra or unused school supply items at home right now. Or, maybe they can pick up a few extras while back-to-school shopping for their own kids. Rumor has it there are some great sales this time of year!"
These badly-needed items may be dropped at the West Essex Tribune, 495 South Livingston Avenue, during business hours.