Feel The Warmth collecting items for needy students

Backpacks donated to Feel The Warmth stock the shelves at the nonprofit's Jeffersonville headquarters. Feel The Warmth is currently holding a school uniform and school supplies donation drive, with multiple drop off locations throughout Chester and Montgomery counties, through September 6. Photo provided by Feel The Warmth.

Thanks to the efforts of an area non-profit and its community partners, local students in need will ‘feel the warmth’ of a helping hand as they head back to school.

Feel The Warmth is a Jeffersonville-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to provide clothing, school supplies and toys to the less fortunate in the Greater Philadelphia region, and it has set up a donation campaign with drop off points at multiple businesses and institutions throughout Chester and Montgomery counties where much-needed school uniforms and supplies are being collected now through September 6.

“When we launched in 2008 we were just collecting winter coats, knowing that we would be adding on other items for donation later,” said Feel The Warmth founder Matt Frangiosa. “Toward the end of 2010 we started to collect toys, school supplies and winter apparel.”

In August of 2011 Feel The Warmth had its first collection of school supplies, and another similar drive in 2012 collected over 1000 backpacks with school supplies. The drives were great, but Frangiosa knew that they would be more effective if Feel The Warmth had multiple drop off points to accept donations.

“We decided that we needed a more organized campaign to engage the community,” he said. “So we have added these drop-off points for the first time.”

In addition to the multiple businesses hosting drop-off points in the area, Feel The Warmth has also partnered with the local offices State Representatives Mike Vereb (150th district) and Matthew Bradford (70th district), as well as that of State Senator Daylin Leach (17th senatorial district).

“With all of these businesses and all of these people reaching out to their network we are really hoping to have a great drive. It’s going to be nice to expand on what we have been doing,” said Frangiosa.

For clothing donations Feel The Warmth is seeking new and gently used articles for children in 1st grade through 8th grade (uniforms sized 6-20). Clothing types being sought are white/light blue/navy golf shirts, white/light blue/navy long sleeve button downs, navy/tan pants, navy/tan skirts or skorts and navy/tan jumpers.

“When it comes to school uniforms these are the colors that seem to be the standard, though some schools may deviate,” said Frangiosa, adding that Feel The Warmth just found out about the need for new clothing last year after having conversations with representatives from different schools.

“We did not ever think about this until the school officials brought the need to our attention. We were told about students from low income households who were still wearing the last year’s uniforms with holes in the knees. We want to get them at least two outfits each, because kids grow fast, and, well, they are kids… …they play at recess and the clothing gets dirty or damaged.”

The school supplies needed are backpacks, notebooks, zip-up binders, dry erase markers, construction paper, composition books, white lined paper, crayons, folders, pencils, glue and tape. All donated school supplies must be new.

Frangiosa recalled a quote he heard once while dropping off book bags that really brought his need into perspective for him.

“There was this kid, he was nine or maybe ten years old, and he said that getting his backpack filled with supplies was great because it is really embarrassing for him to have to ask to borrow supplies. When you hear something like that, right from a kid’s mouth, you realize how important these donations are and how they truly mean something to the students.”

He added that having new supplies also provides a boosts to students’ self-esteem.

“When they have dirty and ripped book bags, and they see other kids with brand new bags, you can see how self-esteem plays a part… …and not having school supplies seems strange, but it happens. People have heard about teachers buying supplies but that happens a lot more that you would think. We want to make sure that every child has a fair shot at an enriching education by giving them the fundamental tools they need.”

Frangiosa also encourages people to organize drives themselves, and to contact Feel The Warmth to arrange a pick-up of the donations. He said one popular way for such drives to take place is for families to reach out to neighbors and let them know that they are collecting items.

“We are a very grassroots organization. We want people to know that their donations are going to a kid within their county. If you are in need, or if you know anyone in need, just let us know and we will help.”

More information is available online at www.FeelTheWarmth.org

For details on how to organize a Donation Drive send an email to pickup@feelthewarmth.org

For any questions regarding the organization, please contact Matt Frangiosa at matt@feelthewarmth.org

The drop-off points for the Feel The Warmth School Supply & Uniform Campaign are:

State Representative Matt Bradford’s Office (2 locations)

1846 Markley St. Norristown, PA 19401

2000 Bustard Rd Ste 6 Cedars, PA 19423

State Representative Mike Vereb’s Office

3950 Germantown Pike Suite 101 Collegeville, PA 19426

Senator Daylin Leach’s Office

601 S. Henderson Road Suite 208 King of Prussia, PA 19406

Office of Dr. Marlene Mash

545 W. Germantown Pike Ste 100 Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

Phoenix rehabilitation (5 locations)

351 Main Street Harleysville, PA 19438

780 Main Street Suite 1 Royersford, PA 19468

1116 Horsham Road #3 Ambler, PA 19002

2605 Egypt Road Suite 104 Trooper, PA 19403

1130 Valley Forge Road Suite 2 Phoenixville, PA 19460

Penn Liberty Bank (2 locations)

472 Norristown Rd., Blue Bell, PA 19422

2722 W. Ridge Pike, Norristown, PA 19403

KOP-BID

234 Mall Blvd, Suite 150 King of Prussia, PA 19406

Texas Roadhouse

70 Buckwalter Rd., Royersford, PA 19468

East Norriton Township

2501 Stanbridge St., East Norriton, PA 19403

West Norriton Township

1630 West Marshall St., Jeffersonville, PA 19403

Upper Merion Township

175 West Valley Forge Rd. King of Prussia, PA 19406

In addition to the drop off points in the community, donations can also be delivered to Feel The Warmth’s main facility at 2121 West Main St. Jeffersonville, PA 19403. Please email Matt Frangiosa at matt@feelthewarmth.org to make arrangements before delivering a donation.

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