FARMINGDALE — Taking a cue from conversations with schools in Monmouth and Ocean counties, which reported students not showing up for class because they didn't have proper winter clothing, the local United Way is looking for donations of new hats, gloves, scarves, and coats this holiday season.

It is the latest edition of the United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties' "Warmest Wishes" Drive, which president and CEO Tim Hearne said is focused primarily on elementary and middle school-aged children.

The idea is to get those kids back into school via their teachers discreetly providing them with the donated cold-weather items. As we reported last week, chronic absenteeism is a key hindrance to a child's long-term success in school.

Hearne said every child should have the opportunity to brave the winter elements in the same apparel his or her neighbor has, and doing this before Christmas adds to the spirit of the effort.

"We try to get (the clothes) into the schools' hands before the Christmas holidays, so that the kids, when they come back — even though it's been a little cool already this winter — to school in January, they have the clothing they need," Hearne said. He added that the deadline for donations is Friday, Dec. 8, with UWMOC's corporate partners helping to organize the clothes for distribution starting the week of Dec. 11.

Sizes from toddler to children's extra-large for both boys and girls are being accepted at UWMOC's two offices, in Farmingdale and Toms River. Gift cards can also be purchased at, through which the organization will buy clothes on the donor's behalf.

Volunteers are always welcome as well, Hearne said.

"Anybody that wants to can reach out to our website, at our volunteer site (we have a volunteer center in Monmouth and Ocean counties), and they could go there to sign up," he said.

UWMOC runs a similar drive in the summer months that aims to get school supplies to children in need of those materials.

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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