Warm wishes: Coat drive seeks donations

Gloucester County effort running through January

There are many ways to get into the spirit of giving — some people volunteer their time, some donate money and toys. Michael Pallozzi, president of HFM Advisors, runs a coat drive.

In 2010, Pallozzi wanted to start a community project. He didn’t want to ask people for money, his small group of people wanted to do something simple, thus the coat drive was born.

“We started with a local elementary school and a library,” Pallozzi said. “We collected 300 to 400 coats the first year.”

Pallozzi added the coat drive grew exponentially over the years.

“Last year, we had more than 35 boxes in Gloucester County,” he said. “We received more than 3,000 coats.”

Over the last eight years, Pallozzi’s coat drive collected more than 15,000 coats.

There are two locations in Williamstown where one can donate a coat, Williamstown Chamber of Commerce on the Black Horse Pike and Cross Keys Brewing Co. on North Main Street.

Chairman of the Board of the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce, Katherine Falcone said the chamber has participated in the coat drive the past three years.

“This year the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce plus, new this year, Cross Keys Brewing Co. hope to help them surpass last year’s total,” Falcone said. “The coat drive runs until January 31. Please remember if you get a new coat for the holidays don’t forget to donate your old one to us! Someone will greatly appreciate the warmth of a new coat.

With locations throughout Camden and Gloucester counties, Pallozzi says he would like to collect 3,000 coats again this year. “Anything more seems possible, but I’m happy if we do 3,000 again. That’d be great,” he said.

The coat drive is something important to Pallozzi, he remedied a need in the community — rectifying a problem in the place he calls home.

“There’s a great need in the community I’ve lived in for 40 years,” he said. “Every coat we collect gets used. I’m a family person, we want to take care of as many families as we can. It’s about helping one person, one family at a time.”

He believes this drive brings the community together to boot, noting there are people who make donating coats an annual tradition. He said people will go out and buy new coats.

“They’ll go to the mall or outlets and buy 20 kids coats. They take pride in the coats,” he said.

While buying new coats is nice, the coat drive accepts gently used coats as well. They’re in search of new or gently used coats for men, women and children.

Once the coats are collected, Pallozzi said an organization called “Hearts of South Jersey” handles the distribution. In past years, recipients were People for People, Unforgotten Haven, Kitchen of Hope and Volunteers of America, to name a few.

The coat drive will go until the end of January. Pallozzi said if any organizations want to be involved next year as a drop-off site they can contact Kristine Robinson at KRobinson@HFMAdvisors.com.