SOMERVILLE — Since 2010, the Somerset County Commission on the Status of Women has collected winter coats, hats, gloves, and scarves to donate to the children of county Food Bank Network clients. That endeavor, Project Warm Your Heart, continues this holiday season with nearly 100 coats going out to kids, and dozens more of each other kind of apparel.

Freeholder Pat Walsh, liaison to the Commission, said that intake is a little bit less than usual, but it's a sign that other area groups are picking up on the donation idea. She said when the program started, she couldn't recall anyone else doing something of this magnitude in preparation for the winter cold. Now, a local newspaper and a Boy Scout troop are among those collecting.

For those concerned that they may not be able to provide their children with cold-weather gear, there is always a need for these types of outdoor clothing. And Somerset County is happy to help.

"We take care of the process, but it's the generosity of the people in Somerset County that actually gives us a product that we can donate for these children," Walsh said.

Walsh wanted to stress that although that need remains high, they can't just accept anything from the back of your closet.

"My mantra, whenever I'm doing any collecting things like this, is if you wouldn't put it on your child, please don't give it to us," she said. "If someone needs a new winter coat, you want them to have a nice one, and it doesn't have to be new."

The designated drop-off site is the freeholders' office at the county courthouse in Somerville, and the coats and other items are then distributed to the Somerset County Food Bank Network, which reaches up to 1,800 families each month.

Patrick Lavery is Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming for New Jersey 101.5, and is lead reporter and substitute anchor for "New Jersey's First News." Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

More from New Jersey 101.5:

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM