Warming communities one coat at a time

Nikki Schaffer
Features Editor

Gregory Frey was most commonly known for his big, bright smile.

A 17-year-old Penn Manor High School student, Frey was an avid lover of sports and animals, hoping to one day become a veterinarian. When he suddenly fell ill and passed away while on a birthday fishing trip with his family and friends last September, his death greatly impacted a community who could not forget his big heart and contagious smile.

in honor of Gregory Frey, Penn Manor wore orange.
in honor of Gregory Frey, Penn Manor wore

“Gregory was the kind of person that didn’t like hanging out with a bunch of people. He preferred hanging out individually— so he could give each of his friends special attention,” Sarah Wittensoldner, Frey’s Aunt, said.

With the one-year anniversary of his death this fall, his memory will be remembered through the Gregory Frey Memorial One Warm Coat Drive, a collection drive organized by Wittensoldner and her friend Charlee Seiple, who currently works as a crossing guard for Penn Manor’s Elementary and Middle School.

After Seiple saw children in need of warm coats while helping them cross the street and navigate traffic, she came up with the idea of the coat drive, which Wittensoldner soon jumped on board with.

“Frey’s warm personality was a perfect match for the goal of this drive,” Wittensoldner said. The drive will run from Oct. 18th to Nov. 1st and donations will be collected the day of the drive. Collection donation sites will also be available at the Millersville Mart, the George Street Café, Joe’s Shoe Repair, the First United Methodist Church and Millersville University’s SMC.

The community will begin collecting new or gently used coats, sweaters, caps and gloves on Oct. 18 at the Millersville Community Parade. All sizes are welcome and wagons will be provided to ensure an easy collection process. Volunteers are welcome to help and should contact Seiple at 717-519-9558 or Wittensoldner at 717-333- 5770.

If you are interested in volunteering beforehand, on Oct. 4th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., volunteers will be making banners and decorating boxes for the parade, which is sea-themed this year. Wittensoldner hopes that those walking in the parade will be able to wear blue Tshirts (Frey’s second-favorite color) along with a picture of him displayed on the front.

Over 800 students and staff donned orange, Frey’s favorite color to remember him by.
Over 800 students and staff donned orange, Frey’s favorite color to remember him by.

Two weeks following the last day of the drive, The Gregory Frey Memorial One Coat-Give- Away will take place. The giveaway will be on November 15th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the First Methodist Church on 121 George St. in Millersville. All members of the community in need of warm accessories are encouraged to attend.

“We want to reach everyone in the Penn Manor district,” said Seiple. “If you need it, we want to provide it.”

If you are unable to give away any warm clothing items, monetary donations can also be given. Following this giveaway, all remaining items will be donated to Water Street Ministries in Lancaster, which serves those living in conditions of poverty and homelessness throughout Southeast and south-central Pennsylvania.

After learning of his death last year, over 800 students and staff wore Frey’s favorite color, orange, for a day in his honor. Frey’s family also had orange bracelets made in his honor, the proceeds benefitting the Humane League. In many ways, Frey’s love for animals lives on even today. Frey’s Chocolate Labrador, Alpha, still visits the cemetery in which Frey is buried, walking and laying down exactly beside the grave.