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The Brotherhood Of The Traveling Coat

The Brotherhood Of The Traveling Coat
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Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

BY JILL MATLOW

Do you remember the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? It tells the story of a pair of jeans that fit four best friends who were all shapes and sizes and follows these characters over the summer as their lives take different turns. I was reminded of that movie when I went home over the Thanksgiving holiday in November.

I spent the last few months leading up to Thanksgiving going through my closets trying to find clothes I no longer wore or that no longer fit me which I could then donate. During this search party and deep in the back of my closet, I discovered my late grandfather’s long cashmere coat, which I had been holding onto for over 20 years. Shortly after his death in 1995, I started wearing his coat, just so that I could still have a piece of him close to me.

My siblings and I called our grandfather Ruby (short for Reuben). Ruby was the kind of grandfather any kid would wish they had. He had a great sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye so you never knew what kind of surprises were around the corner. It’s been over 20 years since his death but I still miss him terribly.

I knew I was going home for the holidays and thought this would be a perfect time to pay it forward with Ruby’s coat. I emailed my three nephews to see if any of them were interested and decided to pack his coat in my suitcase. What also made this coat extremely sentimental is that it was purchased in my dad’s clothing store and still bore the label (albeit tattered).

While the coat didn’t fit any of my three nephews, another family member had stopped by and the coat fit him beautifully! Ironically, my mother told me he and Ruby used to smoke cigars together back in the day—talk about full circle!

Ruby’s coat had such sentimental value to me but I also struggled with the fact that it had been sitting in my closet being worn by no one for over 20 years, so I was happy to pay it forward. While this family member has a roof over his head, I was still reminded of those less fortunate who still need basic clothing just to keep warm, especially with the cold winter season upon us.

According to the Coalition for the Homeless (www.coalitionforthehomeless.org) in September 2017, there were 62,351 homeless people, including 15,553 homeless families with 23,445 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system. (Families comprise just over three-quarters of the homeless shelter population).

Homelessness in New York City has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

As you read these statistics, it’s hard to fully embrace and understand the mayhem that ensues on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when people are rushing to buy items they most likely don’t need or items that will sit in the backs of their closets collecting dust.

It’s true that you can get much fulfillment getting a great bargain but how about replacing that same good feeling with the knowledge that someone less fortunate will receive basic items from you that they desperately need? I think that’s a no-brainer.

This month, I’ll be attending a benefit concert “Rock to Rise” which is a fundraiser for the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS). CUCS helps 50,000 people rise from poverty and homelessness and sets them on a healthy path with affordable housing along with health and social services programs.

I won’t be wearing Ruby’s coat to this benefit but I’ll take comfort in knowing that I am making a conscious effort to pay it forward this season with items I no longer need. What steps will you be taking this holiday season to help those less fortunate? We love hearing your stories and hope that you have a happy, healthy holiday season!

And remember… 

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted”

– Aesop

 

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Jill Matlow
Jill Matlow spent much of her career working in many different facets of the healthcare industry writing marketing proposals, creative briefs and tactical plans. She is thrilled to now be writing articles geared to baby boomers who are nostalgic about their past but still hopeful about their futures. While music is her first passion, writing comes in a close second.