Since his rookie year in Philadelphia, Ben Simmons has had a unique way of helping children in need get through the winter, an annual coat giveaway that clothes thousands of youngsters. This year is no exception. Last Friday, Simmons, working with Operation Warm, was at PS 124 Silas B Dutcher Elementary, down Fourth Avenue from Barclays Center, to distribute 2,600 new coats to children from six schools and three Brooklyn community groups.
“I love this event and am proud to be doing this in New York,” said Simmons. “A new coat creates an opportunity to empower a young person by giving them confidence, offering them warmth and helping students attend school and play with their friends.”
With the 2,600 distributed Friday, the 26-year-old has now distributed 7,800 coats over the course of the program in both Philadelphia and Brooklyn (Last year, the coat drive had to be anonymous because Simmons sister, who runs the Ben Simmons Family Foundation, said she “feared people in Philly might not wear the coat if they knew it was from Ben Simmons.”)
Through the five years of the program, Simmons has worked with Operation Warm, a national non-profit that manufactures brand-new, high-quality coats and shoes for children in need.
“Our partnership with Ben and the Simmons Family Foundation these last five years has positively impacted thousands of children,” said Grace Sica, Executive Director for Operation Warm. “We are grateful to be a part of that legacy.”
The coat drive is one of several charitable programs the Simmons Family Foundation has run in Brooklyn, often with little publicity. Last September, he partnered with RISE, the leading national nonprofit dedicated to eliminating racism through sport, to provide underserved youth in Brooklyn with “the tools to address issues of racism, prejudice and inclusivity within their communities.”
The eight-week leadership program tipped-off September 24 at the HSS Training Center. Meeting with Simmons. teens from Good Shepherd Services — which itself helps over 30,000 youth and family members in struggling neighborhoods throughout New York — participated.