Amid a recent streak of severe cold, several Montgomery County agencies and nonprofits are joining forces to provide low-income Long Branch residents with free winter coats.
The county-wide coat drive began Dec. 27 and ends Friday. Organizers hope to collect 500 coats by the deadline.
Jacob Newman, director of the Silver Spring Regional Center, spearheaded the initiative. Last year, he said the county partnered with a large local retailer to supply 500 residents with free winter coats. While there was hope for the project to continue this year, Newman said, due to supply chain issues and other logistical challenges it “might have fallen by the wayside.” He began calling friends and colleagues to coordinate a new coat drive and fill the community need.
“Government alone cannot do everything,” he said, adding that he likes to underscore “how meaningful it is when various communities come together to meet needs.”
The Silver Spring Regional Center ultimately partnered with nonprofits Silver Spring Cares and CHEER to put on the coat drive, as well as several county agencies including the Office of the County Executive, Montgomery County Public Libraries, the Department of Recreation and the Montgomery County Police Department.
Newman said numerous public officials helped raise awareness for the drive, including County Executive Marc Elrich, Councilmember Kate Stewart (D-Dist. 4), state Sen. Will Smith and state delegates Lorig Charkoudian and Jheanelle Wilkins. “It’s been quite meaningful,” he said of their involvement.
Liz Brent, founder of Silver Spring Cares, said she thinks this drive is an excellent example of how government and nonprofits can work together to provide much-needed resources to residents. She said significant progress has been made “within a very short time over the holidays to provide coats for kids who are cold.”
Brent’s organization recently finished its own winter coat drive, in which it helped donate over 300 coats to Linkages to Learning, a nonprofit that works directly with Montgomery County Public Schools to connect low-income students with a variety of resources.
Residents can drop off new or clean, gently used coats at any of the following locations:
- Germantown Community Recreation Center, 18905 Kingsview Road, Germantown
- Long Branch Community Recreation Center, 8700 Piney Branch Rd., Silver Spring
- Nancy H. Dacek North Potomac Community Recreation Center, 13850 Travilah Road, Rockville
- Potomac Community Recreation Center, 11315 Falls Road, Potomac
- Wheaton Community Recreation Center, 11701 Georgia Ave., Wheaton
- White Oak Community Recreation Center, 1700 April Lane, Silver Spring
- 3rd District Police Headquarters, 1002 Milestone Dr., Silver Spring
Monetary donations for coat purchases can be made via GoFundMe. At the time of this article’s publication, 65 donors had donated a total of $4,612 to the fundraiser. Newman said organizers have purchased upwards of 175 coats with the money raised, and an additional 300 coats have been dropped off by residents.
The coats will be distributed Friday afternoon from 4 to 7 p.m. at Long Branch Community Recreation Center on a first-come, first-serve basis. No registration is required of recipients.
“Though the goal is close to being met, it would really be amazing to exceed it,” Newman said. “The last thing we want is to be turning people away should more than 500 folks show up.”
Later this month, Brent said Silver Spring Cares would be teaming up with several other local nonprofits for Casseroles for a Cause, an initiative to help fill the freezers of a Silver Spring resource center called Shepherd’s Table where houseless community members can access free meals and other basic services.