Residents in the Port Jefferson Station area and beyond need not be left out in the cold this winter.
A somewhat spontaneous winter coat drive sprung up in Port Jefferson Station last week thanks to the efforts of a pair of old friends: a business owner in Nassau County and an employee in the Comsewogue School District. David Jacobson, founding executive director of Collector Car Showcase in Oyster Bay started Layers of Love NY with his longtime friend John Worobey, who provides technology support at Comsewogue, working in the district for 17 years. The organization, which is referred to on its website as a movement, was the byproduct of a brief conversation between the friends earlier this year.
“I went into a classroom last year and there was a child hanging a coat out the window in the middle of the winter,” Worobey recalled during the Oct. 28 coat drive in the Comsewogue High School cafeteria. “I asked the teacher ‘what’s going on? Why is he hanging a coat out the window?’ She said that a lot of the kids in the class didn’t have coats and people donated coats, and his happened to smell like cigarettes. So he was hanging it out the window to air out.”
Worobey said when he told Jacobson about what he had observed his friend was equally taken aback.
“During a casual conversation he said to me some kids come to school with no coats on in the middle of the winter,” Jacobson said. “I was like ‘that’s not okay.’”
Jacobson said they decided they would host a coat drive later in the year and began collecting coats through a variety of avenues. He said they placed Layers of Love NY collection boxes at car dealerships around Long Island; and at The Hoffman Center in Muttontown, a museum named after Maximilian Hoffman, an Austrian-born racecar driver and importer of luxury automobiles in the 1950s; among other locations. On Oct. 1 the museum hosted an event called Driven to America, at which the organization collected even more coats. Jacobson said he heard stories from people showing up to the event who had purchased as many as 10 brand new coats to contribute for the drive.
By the time the event began at Comsewogue, about 250 coats were laid out across the cafeteria tables available for anyone who walked in to look through and pick the perfect fit.
“Whatever we give away today we’re happy,” Jacobson said. The event resulted in the distribution of about 50 coats, with families with multiple children arriving throughout the morning to bundle up ahead of winter. The co-founders of the event each indicated they planned to learn from the 2017 incarnation of their vision and use the information to improve it in years to come.
“It’s a stepping stone, something we’re going to build upon,” Jacobson said.
Worobey said he thought Comsewogue was the perfect location for a coat drive like this because of the community’s inherent nature of giving.
“That makes you feel good,” Worobey said, waving to a group that had just collected several coats and were heading on their way.
Jacobson said the organization will begin collecting coats for a 2018 drive next July. Anyone interested in learning more about Layers of Love NY should visit www.layersofloveny.com.