In the shivering cold, Brian Blakely, President of Clara’s Heart LLC, joined Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello, Mercer County Commissioner Samuel Frisby, and the Frost Family, to pick up 80 different coats for the coat drive happening this coming Saturday at The Rescue Mission of Trenton. 

In his 6th year teaming up with The Hamilton Coat Kid Max Frost in collecting coats, Blakely continues his mother’s legacy that she instilled in him to give back to the community. He provides community services like Dinner and a Movie Night and other activities for the homeless population in Trenton. A 14-year-old freshman, now at The Hun School, Frost explained that with the biting cold New Jersey has faced, coats are a necessity for everyone. “If people are not using their coats, they might as well give back to people who aren’t as fortunate. And I feel like everyone should be as fortunate as us, not freezing the cold during the winter… I feel that everyone should have a coat,” said Max Frost.  

Tammy Frost, Max’s mom, explains that they were getting and donating hundreds of coats to Blakely’s drive at the height of their coat drive in Hamilton. “So it started, really small. I just reached out to my friends; Max wants to collect some coats. From there, it just got bigger and bigger,” Tammy Frost noted.

Over the past six years they have given over 300 coats to the Trenton community on top of hundreds of hats, gloves, and sweaters. The Frosts were joined by Mercer County community members looking to make a difference and help out. Frisby explained that throughout Mercer County, there has been a spike in homelessness since the pandemic.

“When you ride through, not just the city but through our county, and you encounter the number of homeless people, what most people don’t know is even in Princeton, we’ve had an uptick in the soup kitchen giveaways. So every place in our county, we are experiencing homelessness,” Frisby said. 

“When you go into the city, people say, well, that’s where it is, the homeless population, but that is also where the greatest number of services are,” Frisby said. “So that’s where people are. The reality is that if we’re going to impact people’s lives, we must make sure that we’re impacting them when they’re cold and they’re hungry, but then we’ve got to figure out a way to get them out of being in an impoverished state.” 

For now, though, coat drives like Blakely’s that help keep one of Trenton’s most vulnerable populations warm at night. However, this year has been hard to get started. Blakely explained that he lost his brother in December, held the funeral on Christmas Eve, and this has been one of the things he has been working on to keep himself busy. He will spend the rest of this week going around the city to places like the McDonalds of Chambers Street in Trenton to pick up boxes and garbage bags filled to the brink with winter wear.

Check out this article about other local business owners coming together to help out the Trenton Community: http://https://www.trentondaily.com/local-business-owners-hold-fiath-annual-coat-drive/

“Come Saturday, when we are out there, we are joking, we are setting up our tables, you turn, you look, and you see all of these people out here drinking coffee and trying on coats, and gloves, and hats, and socks, it makes everything that you went through worth it,” Blakely said.

There is still a chance to donate at these locations: 1911 Smokehouse, Candle Light Events & Al-Lee’s Trenton, NJ. Join Blakely this coming Saturday (January 8, 2022) behind the Trenton Rescue Mission from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. to help give out coats for those who want to volunteer. For more information and donations, call Brian at 609-222-2770.