BY BENJAMIN FANG
As temperatures begin to dip, a trade group representing New York car dealers donated tens of thousands of coats to New York Cares. The Greater New York Automobile Dealership Association (GNYADA) announced on Friday that a record 195 car dealerships collected more than 90,000 coats for the drive.
That represents nearly 10 percent of the total amount of coats donated to the citywide organization. Since the car dealership association began its partnership with New York Cares in 2012, the group has donated nearly 60,000 coats for the needy, according to GNYADA president Mark Schienberg.
“The dealers, their employees and their customers each year see the importance of this cause that New York Cares has done for a long time,” he said. “It’s just so impressive to see the outturn of compassion for people that are needy.”
Since November, dealerships have hosted collection sites in their showrooms, increasing the amount of coat donations. GNYADA is the largest multi-business group that donates coats, Schienberg said. On Friday, the last batch of coats was loaded onto a truck parked in front of Koeppel Mazda in Jackson Heights.
Koeppel collected the largest number of coats of all of the participating dealerships. The coats were then delivered to the New York Cares warehouse in midtown for distribution. Mark Lacher, dealer principal of Koeppel Auto Group, said the winter coat drive is something he and his team of 300 employees look forward to every year.
“It kicks off the holiday season and gets everyone in the spirit of giving,” Lacher said. “We love doing it every year.”
Gary Bagley, executive director of New York Cares, said donated coats come in batches of 50, 100 or 200, thanks to individual drives at dealerships, apartment buildings and schools. He noted that there are about 1.7 million people living at or below the poverty line in New York City.
“What we don’t want is, even if you’re not in the shelter system, we don’t want you to have to decide between a warm meal and a warm coat,” he said. “We want to remove that need.”
The coats help children who might have stayed home without a coat go to school, and seniors pick up their prescriptions.
“We could not do this without thousands of champions who come together in this really impressive way,” Bagley said.