As everyone already knows, we live in challenging times. Thanks to the stresses of urban life during an historic pandemic, many people are not only struggling to stay healthy but also to keep up their daily requirements of food, clothing and shelter. So it was truly uplifting to read Mark Zimmaro’s report on the annual Winter Coat Drive held by the Girard Estate Neighbors Association (“Coat drive to combat the cold,” Dec. 15).
As a resident of the Passyunk Crossing area, I noticed that the only clothing collection (other than by charities like Red Cross or Goodwill) in our immediate neighborhood was held around Thanksgiving by my parish, Annunciation B.V.M., at 10th and Dickinson streets. So it was especially gratifying to learn that another South Philly neighborhood organization holds a similar annual event close to the start of winter.
The big difference between most used clothing drives and the one held by GENA is that the latter concentrates only on warm coats for men, women and children, rather than clothing in general. Of course, as we approach the Christmas holiday and a new year, the need for outer clothing is becoming even more essential.
What is especially heartwarming about Zimmaro’s report is the mention of the center of the community’s coat drive, the Taproom on 19th. The generosity of the owner Pete Frye and his manager Brian Padgett is truly remarkable. I really like how they offered free drinks to those who donated coats for men, women or children.
Zimmaro also reported that the Association not only collects coats for the needy but also accepts food donations that they then give to Philabundance.
It seems as if there is nothing like a crisis to bring out the best and sometimes the worst in people. It makes me proud to be a citizen of South Philly where we have organizations, both religious and secular, that make it a practice to collect and distribute the necessities of life to the less fortunate. GENA and their partners at Taproom on 19th deserve our gratitude and praise for their consistent generosity to the needy. May this wonderful tradition continue for many more years.
– Gloria C. Endres