Massive coat drive by Long Island business owner warms thousands

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, Long Island (WABC) -- There was below zero wind chill on Long Island Friday morning and colder weather is coming.

All they had to do was show up. Anyone cold, anyone in need could warm up and take their pick of a brand new winter coat.

"Good, warm, feels fantastic," a boy said.

"2,000 coats being picked up by several non-profit and community itself," said Paul Patcher, CEO of Long Island Cares.

Long Island Cares delivered a truckload of comfort at a time when it's needed the most.

"You need help, some don't have money like that, it really helps," said Artenias Austin, Freeport resident.

One man was behind the entire purchase on this bitter cold day, the owner of Mid Island Collision in Rockville Centre, Bob Jesberger.

"Zero degree weather, this is cold and kids got to go to school," Jesberger said. "In business you have obligation to give back to the community."

Jesberger's been helping agencies like the Bethany House for decades.

"I myself was a resident in 1999," said Tonya Bright, Bethany House volunteer. "I managed to move on to be productive and have stability."

Now she's a volunteer there helping others. Bright has come full circle, saying people like Jesberger gave her hope.

"I don't give because I have so much, but I give because I know what it's like to have nothing at all," Bright said.

Bright's is just one story behind a very generous effort.

"We bought more coats as one corporation than anyone in the nation for a one-day event," Jesberger said.

Over the holiday, local business owner Jesberger has donated meals and this entire coat drive for a grand total of a quarter of a million dollars.

"This is what the business community needs to do on Long Island, especially now," he said.

"He's being generous buying these things and giving to those that need them," his daughter said.

"Maybe they will see it on TV and say, 'I can do that too,'" Jesberger said.

It's a simple hope the example of covering others' needs will bring people together for more than a warm up.

"That assignment, that is not something to do for fame and fortune," Bright said. "It's something that comes from the heart."

"They are walking out with smiling faces despite the temperature," Jesberger said.
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