Junior high student organizes coat drive for those in need

Nov 22, 2019

NEW BEDFORD — Old Rochester Regional Junior High School student Hanna Whalley organized a week-long coat drive for the Salvation Army in New Bedford to help those in need in time for Thanksgiving.

Whalley previously joined her father Trey in the Salvation Army’s food truck that delivers food to those in need in the city, and noticed that many of the people they helped also needed coats to stay warm.

Wanting to do more, the eighth grader organized a coat drive at Old Rochester Regional Junior High School, as well as Center School, and Old Hammondtown School in Mattapoisett.

Junior High School Principal Silas Coellner, and Center School Principal Rose Bowman helped set up drop-off locations at their respective schools, and spread the word to students and families on social media. 

Melanie Cherifi, a human services student at Bristol Community College helped coordinate the drive between Whalley and the Salvation Army. Once the Whalley family arrived with a car load of clothes, she helped bring in the donations alongside Salvation Army Major Michael Jung, and Pastor Ebenezer Oyebamiji of New Bedford’s City of Joy Church.

The clothes will be distributed on Thanksgiving in addition to food from the Salvation Army.

Whalley and her mother Monika estimate that in the past week they gathered about 200 clothing items, half of which were winter coats. Monika said that some of the coats were brand new, with the tags still attached to them.

“It was amazing to see a 13-year-old think to say ‘I want to do something good, but I need help,’” Monika Whalley said of her daughter’s efforts.

Jung said that if the drive goes well this year, the Salvation Army will do it again next year, and possibly try to expand on it as well in the future.

Hanna said that she “definitely learned that there are a lot of good people out in the world” after receiving so many donations for her coat drive.

The Salvation Army building is located at 619 Purchase Street in New Bedford.