Vince Maione eyed a bright red parka and learned about insulation at the Columbia sportswear store Monday as The United Way and The Walk in Atlantic City kicked off the annual Thanks for Giving winter apparel drive Monday.

Maione, president of Atlantic Electric and Atlantic County 2012 campaign chairman, is hoping to spur the public to buy a jacket, scarf or gloves to donate to the drive as they shop at the outlet stores.

This year, rather than sponsoring United Way of Greater Philadelphia and South Jersey shopping sprees, Tanger Outlets The Walk is donating $2,500 to begin the drive, with Columbia sportswear providing an additional 30 percent discount on the items purchased at its store. The company is also donating a box of hats and gloves.

Ilise James, director of resource development for the United Way, said they expect the need to be especially great this year because of the number of families affected by Hurricane Sandy. She said while children’s items are needed, so are coats, hats, gloves and winter clothing for adults.

“There were families that were struggling before, and the storm pushed them over the edge,” she said. “A lot more are now on the edge as well.”

That was evident at other sites Monday, some just a few blocks away from The Walk. A steady stream of people lined up outside the Community Food Bank in Egg Harbor Township Monday for the annual turkey basket giveaway. Another line snaked around the block near the Second Baptist Church in Atlantic City, waiting for a truck loaded with food to arrive for distribution.

Donna Danielson, general manager of Tanger Outlets The Walk, said stores have already been helping the recovery efforts, donating clothing and setting up donation boxes in their stores to make it easy for people to buy and donate on the spot. The Carters children’s store has a box near the entrance. Maidenform donated underwear, and Reebok and Nike have also contributed to the effort.

“Many of our stores also had employees affected by the storm, and they are helping them as well,” Danielson said.

The United Way and and Tanger Outlets will coordinate with the Salvation Army to distribute the collected items on an ongoing basis through Dec. 21.

Items can also be dropped off at the Tanger Outlets Shopper Services office at 2014 Baltic Ave. (next to T-Mobile) from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.. Sundays.

Contact Diane D'Amico:


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