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Toms River Regional Schools sent the intrepid Harry Staples (second in on right) and Mike Wilkoski (far right) to the UPS Distribution Facility in Tinton Falls to pick up hundreds of winter coats for district students. This effort in kindness was made possible thanks to the United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties' Warmest Wishes Coat Drive. Standing alongside Harry and Mike are UWMOC board members and representatives. Story below.

Mike, Harry play Santa for some 200 students

Dec. 9, 2020-- The “Warmest Wishes Coat Drive” from the United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties (UWMOC) delivered hundreds of coats yesterday to Cedar Grove, Walnut Street, and South Toms River elementary schools.

Head of custodial services Harry Staples and his warehouse colleague Mike Wilkoski drove the district's box truck to Tinton Falls to pick up the coats, and then hand delivered them to each of the three designated schools.

"We at Walnut Street Elementary are extremely grateful to be partnering with the United Way for this year's Warmest Wishes Coat Drive,” said Walnut Street Principal Kevin McCann. “With so many in need during this unprecedented time, we are so appreciative of the generosity of the United Way. The warmth these coats will provide and the caring they represent will bring comfort to our students and families when they need it most."

Last week, for Giving Tuesday, UWMOC and Cedar Grove were highlighted in a NJNN feature story.

“United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties continues to be such a strong partner in improving the lives of our students,” said Cedar Grove Principal Stacey Monetti. “Thanks to the generous donations from the Warmest Wishes Coat Drive, we can ensure that our neediest students are dressed warmly during all our outdoor activities including recess, snack and mask breaks, and outside learning activities. This donation will make a substantial positive difference for our students while helping to alleviate one financial strain on families.”

Thanks to a high volume of donations and community support, UWMOC was able to double the number of coats allotted to each school. In the end, more than 200 winter coats were provided to Toms River Regional Schools students.

“We appreciate this gift of warmth from the United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties,” said South Toms River Elementary Principal Dennis Holzapfel. “We have plenty of children who will benefit from UWMOC’s generosity and thoughtfulness.”

United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties has been a strong district partner over the past several years, funding both Project SPEAR-IT at High School South and, most recently, the Extended-Day Covid-Relief Program at Cedar Grove. For more information about UWMOC and their work within the community, visit

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