A GIFT OF WARMTH

Lo­cal auto deal­ers team up to ‘Drive Away the Cold’ for chil­dren in need

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Donna Rovins drovins@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mer­cBiz on Twit­ter

EAST NOR­RI­TON >> Re­spond­ing to an on­go­ing need, auto deal­ers from across the re­gion are once again step­ping up to make sure kids in need stay warm this win­ter.

In the com­ing weeks, 51,696 brand-new win­ter coats will be dis­trib­uted by the Auto Deal­ers CAR­ing for Kids Foun­da­tion — as part of its an­nual Driv­ing Away the Cold ini­tia­tive.

The ef­fort, now in its 11th year, in­volves 180 lo­cal auto deal­ers across the Greater Philadel­phia re­gion, in­clud­ing 37 deal­ers from Ch­ester County, 54 deal­ers from Mont­gomery County and 21 deal­ers from Delaware County.

When the pro­gram started in 2008, the goal was to have a pro­gram the deal­ers mem­bers could sup­port, and that “fo­cused on im­prov­ing the lives of young, area kids,” ac­cord­ing to Kevin Maz­zu­cola, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Auto Deal­ers CAR­ing for Kids Foun­da­tion.

“We did a ton of re­search and found out that warm win­ter coats is one of the most re­quested items from so­cial ser­vices agen­cies, school nurses, etc.,” added Mary Lynn Al­varino, CFO and Di­rec­tor of Op­er­a­tions at Au­to­mo­bile Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Greater Philadel­phia & Auto Deal­ers CAR­ing for Kids Foun­da­tion.

“That first year, we dis­trib­uted a to­tal of 18,000 new coats through­out the five-county re­gion of Philadel­phia. This year, we will do nearly three times that,” Maz­zu­cola added. “Clearly and un­for­tu­nately, the need is present, and we are com­mit­ted to do­ing our part to help with that.”

One in six chil­dren in the Greater Philadel­phia re­gion lives in poverty, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease, and a warm win­ter coat is one of the es­sen­tial items they of­ten live without.

The 180 Driv­ing Away the Cold par­tic­i­pants con­duct a pledge pro­gram to help raise funds to pur­chase the brand­new win­ter coats, which are en­gi­neered to last with deep pock­ets, de­tach­able hoods and a soft fleece lin­ing, ac­cord­ing to Al­varino. The Auto Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Greater Philadel­phia also plays a part by do­nat­ing $2.00 from ev­ery Philadel­phia Auto Show ticket sold to its Auto Deal­ers CAR­ing for Kids Foun­da­tion in sup­port of the ef­fort.

The pledged coats are then dis­trib­uted through 220 so­cial ser­vices agen­cies, school dis­tricts, churches, shel­ters, etc. in the area. Twenty-nine lo­cal YMCAs also serve as sig­na­ture coat distri­bu­tion part­ners.

The first coat de­liv­ery event was held Oct. 9 at the Phoenixville YMCA, where 1,100 new coats were de­liv­ered. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from John Kennedy Ford Phoenixville, Wynn Volk­swa­gen and Wynn Volvo Cars Norristown were on hand to present the coats to staff of the YMCA. A sec­ond event was held Oct. 12 at the Haver­ford YMCA.

Ten ad­di­tional distri­bu­tion events will be held across the WARMTH >> PAGE 2

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Over the next cou­ple of weeks, the Auto Deal­ers CAR­ing for Kids Foun­da­tion will de­liver to area agen­cies, more than 51,000 win­ter coats for kids in need. It is the 11th years for the Driv­ing Away the Cold ini­tia­tive, which pro­vides brand-new win­ter coats to area chil­dren who need them most. In this file photo, West Ch­ester Area YMCA staff mem­bers un­load coats dur­ing the 2017 Driv­ing Away the Cold ini­tia­tive.

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