The Philadelphia Union Foundation launched in March 2012, has worked since its inception on creating a better community in the city of Chester. The first year of the Foundation is soon wrapping up; but before it does the Foundation will be once again involved in the “Coats for Chester” program.
The idea for the “Coats for Chester” initiative first came into being three years ago during the Sons of Ben annual Food Drive. “People were coming in hoodies,” Bob Kozlowski (President of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame) stated, “The Sons of Ben had the food Drive; we wanted our own way to give back.
For the third straight year the Philadelphia Union partnered with Bob Kozlowski and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame in its annual “Coats for Chester” program. At the final two home games of the Philadelphia Union’s season fans donated over 600 coats from the different donation stations throughout the Toyota Plaza at PPL Park. In the past two months additional drop-off locations were set up across Delaware Country for others to donate their slightly worn coats. At the conclusion of the “Coats for Chester” program on November 30th the Union and the SEPA Hall of Fame could proudly say that1,450 coats far surpassed their goal of 1,000 coats making this year’s total the largest collection to date.
Today,-December 14th the Philadelphia Union Foundation with the help of members from the SEPA Hall of Fame and volunteers from Father Judge High School hit three different locations around Chester, PA to drop of the collected coats. These locations included Bernadine Center, City Team Ministries, and St. Catherine’s.
At the Bernadine Center we were greeted by Sister Sanders and the unloading began. After all the bags of coats were unloaded I got a chance to speak with Ms. Sanders. “If people have clothing, than that is one less thing they have to spend time worrying about,” she said. Collecting coats is just one of the many ways in which the Bernadine Center shares with the Community of Chester. The center also hosts a number classes focusing on topics such as education, anger management, and even parenting. “These are ways to help people move up in the world, we are helping people by lifting them up.” The next stop on the list was City Team Ministries.
Upon arrival at City Team Ministries an assembly line was formed and the unloading began. John Clifford, the liaison of the drop off, was incredibly thankful. “Our long-term goal is to see this city transformed,” Mr. Clifford said. “We want to make a difference.”
The last drop off of the day was at St. Catherine’s church, just a few blocks away from PPL Park. Sister Barbra Anne was waiting anxiously and the unloading began for the last time as “Coats for Chester” came to an end. Beyond coats, St. Catherine’s Church had also been collecting food and toys for the holidays. “Seeing children come in and not only getting food but toys to play with!” a Sister from St. Catherine's began, “the parents are so grateful.”
With the drop-offs over and done with, and a rewarding feeling in our hearts the boys from Father Judge High School returned to class, Bob Kozlowski and his team headed for home and we, The Union went back to work. Before Mr. Kozlowski left, I asked what the plan was for the future of “Coats for Chester”. He replied, “We won’t stop until we collect the same number coats as the number of people in Chester.” Even though our total this year was nowhere near that number, The Foundation, can proudly say that “Coats for Cancer” was a success.