Alex Beall is a freelance writer based in California.
The Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia is helping keep local kids warm by distributing brand new coats.
To help kids bundle up during the fall and winter, the Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia and its Auto Dealers CARing for Kids Foundation hand out new coats through its Driving Away the Cold program.
Every October, ADAGP engages its member dealerships to distribute new coats to thousands of children in the Philadelphia area. During the ninth year of the program in 2016, dealers gave away 45,070 coats.
“It’s a great example of public and private, small businesses, and community organizations working together with one common goal, which is to provide a new coat and have these kids be warm,” Executive Director Kevin Mazzucola says.
Participating members purchase new coats from national nonprofit Operation Warm and distribute them either through a charity of their choice or through ADAGP’s partners: the YMCA and Philadelphia school districts.
ADAGP launched Driving Away the Cold in 2008 as a program that “would engage dealers and would fill a need in the community,” says Director of Operations Mary Lynn Alvarino. To date, the dealers have distributed a total of 265,252 coats.
“These are brand-new coats,” Mazzucola says. “These in some cases are one of the few new things a lot of these kids ever even have.”
Though participation among members is already at 96 percent, the group hopes to continue expanding the program and addressing the growing childhood poverty rate in the city.
“Economically, [members] look very different, but together they can work in this program and have such an impact,” Alvarino says. “And that’s what the goal is for the future, to continue to include everybody and impact as many kids as we can.”
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Warming Up."]