Levittown resident blows past her goals for this year's coat drive, which go to various local organizations for those in need.
Story by Nicole Murphy.
Lindsay Gruntorad was taught the importance of giving back to those less fortunate since a young age.
The values instilled in
her throughout her childhood inspired Guntorad, a ‘08 graduate of Division
Avenue High school, to start a coat drive in the winter of 2006.
"I went to a soup
kitchen in Harlem with my mom and I noticed how cold the people were waiting on
line, how none of them really had a heavy winter coat,”said Guntorad, 22. “So
the following year I brought back 50 jackets with me. The coat drive is in its
7th year now and it has blown up to huge proportions."
Guntorad and her family
still frequent the soup kitchen each year on Thanksgiving to help serve food to
those in need.
Since her drive has
expanded, she's donated the coats to various local organizations including New
York Cares and the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless.
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"I'm so grateful my
mother introduced me to the soup kitchen and instilled in me that you help
others whenever you can," Guntorad said. "It brings me such happiness
to be able to help those who need it."
In 2011, Guntorad
collected 619 jackets
from August to November. As the drive grows, Guntorad
tries to raise more than the previous year.
"We had a two page
article in Newsday just this weekend and that really helped this year,"
she explained. "I usually stop collecting Nov. 30, but I've gotten a huge
response, so I'm going to keep collecting until the end of next week. Before
the article ran Sunday, I had collected 400 coats and I've already gotten 200
more since then."
Guntorad said she is
simply overwhelmed with the response she's received over the last six years and
hopes her drive continues to grow.
"Starting with 50
coats, I could have never imagined that last year I'd raise 617, and this year
is still growing," Guntorad said. "I never thought it my wildest
dreams this could be so successful."
Unfortunately for those looking to donate, she added that the
drive has been so successful in the past couple of weeks that she is currently not
looking for any more donations.
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