Yad Leah, a Northern New Jersey-based organization that provides new and gently used clothing to communities in Israel, held a coat drive from mid-December through mid-January. The drive was in response to two emails that Yad Leah’s U.S. director, Jessica Katz, received in October. The first one read: “It’s getting cold here in Israel please do whatever you can to send us coats.” The second one said: “Our local students here in New Jersey, despite the difficulties of the pandemic, are looking for volunteer opportunities. They are ready to help. What can we do?”
That was the impetus that drove Ms. Katz to set up the Yad Leah United Yeshiva Coat Drive. Her goal was to collect 3,600 coats this winter. Within a month, 43 Jewish schools in the tristate area, (some are pictured above), signed on as one community with one mission: send warm coats to our brothers and sisters in Israel. The school’s volunteers advertised, gathered, sorted, packed up, and together collected 4,389 coats, plus scores of winter accessories, to send off to Israel.
Yeshivat Noam in Paramus had the highest total of coats collected — it gathered 400 — and many other schools were not far behind.
Karen Thaler, the director of Yad Leah in Israel, said “The project, which far exceeded our expectations, highlights the ability for one child to make a difference. All it takes is for a kid to reach into the back of the family coat closet and find last season’s still beautiful, comfy, warm jacket, that is too small for them, and say, ‘I can’t wear this anymore, but I know it will fit my cousin in Israel. Let’s donate it!’”
Ms. Katz, who was touched by the spectrum of schools eager to get involved, said, “To me it shows that when we come together as one unified Jewish community, great things can happen.”
For more information on future drives or volunteer opportunities, go to yadleah.org or email email@example.com.