A coat drive pop-up shop

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NYC nonprofit embraces a storefront trend to drive holiday donations
By megan conn


  • Joe Preston holds up one of the coats he donated at the Union Square pop-up shop on Tuesday. Photo: Megan Conn

Union Square’s newest shop isn’t selling anything — instead, it’s inviting New Yorkers to donate winter coats to those in need. The Coat Drive Pop-Up, which opened Tuesday, is a project of the nonprofit New York Cares marking the 30th year of the city’s largest coat collection.

“We want people to come in and hang up their donated coat here like it’s a warm, cozy living room, because that’s the experience we aspire to for everyone who receives a coat,” said Executive Director Gary Bagley. The storefront at 14th Street and Third Avenue will be accepting new and gently used coats from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. through this Saturday.

The pop-up is part of the nonprofit’s effort to increase collections dramatically. This year, the agency aims to collect 130,000 coats, 25 percent more than last year.

“There are 1.7 million people living at or below the poverty line in New York City,” Bagley said. “Even if we exceed our goal, there’s no shortage of need.” New Yorkers can also donate $20 to purchase a new coat for donation by texting COAT to 41444.

The coats will be distributed by 600 partner agencies, with all those brought to the pop-up going to the Bowery Mission. Last week, another pop-up in Lincoln Center collected over 500 coats in five days.

Joe Preston, who lives a few blocks away, stopped in the Union Square pop-up to drop off two coats Tuesday morning.“I haven’t worn them in a few years, and there’s a good chance I won’t wear them again,” he said. “I’d rather give them to someone who really needs them.”

Before he left, he stopped to write a note to the person who would ultimately receive the coat.

Bagley said that’s exactly the kind of connection the pop-up is meant to foster. “We want recipients to know that somewhere in New York City, there’s another person who wants to help lift you up in a time of need.”

For more information, contact www.newyorkcares.org

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