POCKETS OF NEED: Local business drives to give gift of warmth

Monroe Chiropractic’s "Baby, It’s Cold Outside" coat drive hopes to collect 2,000 new and gently used coats by Jan. 13.

By: Leon Tovey
   JAMESBURG — "We need people to know that giving should go past the holidays," Gini Mundy said Tuesday.
   Ms. Mundy, the driving force behind Monroe Chiropractic of Jamesburg’s "Baby, It’s Cold Outside" coat drive, said she decided to extend the deadline for this year’s drive to Jan. 13 to remind residents of that fact — and to help meet the ambitious goal she set for this year’s drive.
   Because 2004’s drive exceeded her original goal of 1,000 coats by such a wide margin, Ms. Mundy set the bar higher this year, saying she wanted to collect 2,000 new or gently used coats for the state nonprofit group Jersey Cares.
   Originally scheduled to end on Dec. 15, the drive so far has collected about 900 coats.
   "We just dropped off another 400 coats this morning," she said. "And that’s a lot, and people have been really great, but hey — I’m looking for a miracle."
   And from all appearances, people in the area are looking to give her one, she said.
   Fred and Patrice Keesser, owners of the Goddard School on Englishtown Road in Old Bridge, collected 200 coats from children, parents, even total strangers for the drive, Mr. Keesser said last week.
   Members of the Jamesburg Civic Association and the Jamesburg Area Chamber of Commerce have also helped, both with collecting and transporting coats to Jersey Cares’ collection center in Hillside, Ms. Mundy said.
   A group of seventh- and eighth-graders from Immaculate Conception School in Spotswood also collected and even helped sort through the coats last weekend, she said.
   And a few hundred more coats have come in from Barclay Brook Elementary School and Applegarth Middle School in Monroe, Ms. Mundy said. Both schools have agreed to continue as collection sites until Jan 13, she said, as have a number of Jamesburg businesses — Family Framers, PNC Bank, Fiddleheads Restaurant and Monroe Chiropractic, among them. Anyone with a new or gently used coat is asked to drop it off at any of the above locations.
   "The standing joke is that anybody who gets a back problem from collecting coats can come to Dr. Deborah (DeMarco) and get their back fixed," Ms. Mundy said with a laugh. "But in seriousness, the volunteers at Jersey Cares have been just blown away by our turnout and I hope we can continue that, because the need is there."
   For more information, contact Ms. Mundy at (732) 521-1333. Information is also available at Jersey Cares’ Web site, www.jerseycares.org.