Girard Estate brings ‘A’ game in coat drive

A decade ago, residents in the Girard Estate neighborhood were hoping to make a small difference in a mission to help keep their neighbors warm.

Ten years later, the effort has grown into an enormous drive collecting hundreds of coats since that first drive. The 10th Annual Girard Estate Neighbors Association Winter Coat Drive showed no signs of slowing down as more than 125 coats were collected to help others in need. It was a new record for GENA, which was hard at work getting those coats to places and people in needed.

“GENA loves giving back to community members in need each year, but it’s also so wonderful to see how this coat drive brings our own neighborhood together,” said Jessica Frye, president, Girard Estate Neighbors Association. “Our favorite corner bar hosts us, and neighbors come out and catch up as they drop their donations throughout the week.”

Taproom on 19th (2400 S. 19th St.), which has been a supporter from the start, hosted a collection event on Jan. 8, welcoming guests to drop off gently used coats and jackets in collection bins throughout the bar. And although the results proved the drive meant business, there was a festive atmosphere at Taproom on 19th throughout the evening with drink specials and live music as George Becker rocked the night away. Visitors were even treated to a celebratory coat-shaped cake provided by Classic Cake Co. It was the literal icing on the cake of another successful drive.

“Every year, South Philly brings its A game, all week long, to help people they’ve never met,” said Pete Fry, owner of Taproom on 19th. “We start getting calls weeks before the event to make sure they haven’t missed it. This year being especially cold, it’s so important. We are thankful and humbled to have been a part of it for the last 10 years, and hope to be part of it for years to come.” 

Bins began filling up during the kickoff event on Jan. 8 and coats continued to pile in the following week. Original plans were designed to close the collection on Jan. 12 but the bar decided to keep it going through the weekend to give an extra push. 

Frye said 23 bags had been collected, which included 56 for women, 48 for men and 19 more for children, with a few more trickling in even after the deadline. In addition, the bins gathered bonus scarves, gloves hats and sweatshirts. 

Men’s donations will be delivered to Our Brothers Place of Bethesda Project at 907 Hamilton St. (near Spring Garden Street). Women’s and children’s coats will be sent to Project Home at 1515 Fairmount Ave. Both agencies have been recipients of the drive in the past.

It was once again an enormous effort by neighbors helping their neighbors.

“This year, a 10th Annual Coat Drive Kick-Off party made the event extra special, and we were thrilled that so many people came in to donate and stayed to celebrate the milestone,” Fry said. “Once again, we are warmed by the generosity of our friends and neighbors.”