One hundred coats of all sizes and appropriate for all ages were collected and distributed, along with hats, gloves and scarves to individuals in West Philadelphia who were without the outerwear to keep them warm through winter thanks to the efforts of a long-time Supervisory Transportation Security officer at Philadelphia International Airport.
TSA Supervisor Latasha Holley and her family wanted to give back in the memory of their lost family member Dammon H. Everett. They saw a need for warm coats in their community and stepped up. “We saw people in the neighborhood—young children and senior citizens alike—walking around the neighborhood without coats” and decided to do something to help.
At first, several family members contributed money and then opened their closets to pull out gently used outerwear to donate to the those in need. Out of their closets came more coats, boots and shoes that were in good condition.
Holley has been working for TSA at Philadelphia International Airport since 2002, shortly after the agency was established and she and her husband, two teenagers, in-laws and other family members all contributed to the effort.
The Holley family in association with Benevolent Cares, teamed up with West Philly Produce A&W Community Solutions, a non-profit community-based youth and family services organization that provides holistic healthy food and nutrition to the community. By teaming up with A&W, Holley knew that they were at the right location in the neighborhood and they could arrange for their giveaway to coincide with a local food distribution.
Holley and her family hung the coats on a fence at the corner of 62nd and Market Streets in West Philadelphia, adjacent to where the regular food distribution was taking place. “At first a few people thought we were selling the coats, but we explained that we were giving them out. They were very appreciative. We helped people pick out a coat for themselves or for a loved one. People were overwhelmed,” Holley said.
“The best part about the event was that everything was absolutely free,” she said.
Holley said that she believes the family’s actions demonstrated to her children that “even if you don’t have much, you can always help someone with something as small as a kind word or gesture. My children got to see first-hand the impact that our actions had. They saw it right away” when local residents selected a coat, hat, gloves and scarves and put them on to wear immediately.”
The giveaway “meant a lot to the neighborhood. And in the spirit of the season and an overwhelming need to do more in the community, this was a humbling and beautiful experience,” Holley said. “We’ll do it again next year."