Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hudson Boy Scout's coat drive yields heaps of warmth

Working toward his Boy Scouts Citizen in the Community merit badge, Life Scout Jacob Balcerzak collected hundreds of warm clothing items for kids in the area.

Courtesy of Tammy Balcerzak

Working toward his Boy Scouts Citizen in the Community merit badge, Life Scout Jacob Balcerzak collected hundreds of warm clothing items for kids in the area.

Perhaps it was the holiday spirit that did the trick. Or maybe it was simply the generous nature of local residents when they heard about a young man's quest to collect 100 coats for children in need.

It may have started out slow, but in the eleventh hour of Life Scout Jacob Balcerzak's coat drive, he reached his goal of collecting 100 coats — and then tripled it.

"I think that was cool," the Hudson High sophomore said Tuesday evening.

Working toward his Boy Scouts Citizen in the Community merit badge, Jacob launched the coat drive in October at three public locations. He came up with the idea after sifting through his own closet last winter looking for a coat to help a boy he often saw walking to school in shorts and T-shirts during shivering temperatures.

Jacob and his mother, Tammy Balcerzak, handed out fliers about the coat drive, slated to run through Dec. 13. In two months he had collected about 30 coats. Several came from his Boy Scout Troop 79, based at the Angelus in Hudson, and a few more were ones he and his mom bought at thrift stores.

After people read a Dec. 3 Times article about Jacob's efforts, however, the collection boxes at Veterans Memorial Park, Northwest Elementary and Hudson Regional Library overflowed. Emails inquiring about the drive filled the troop's inbox.

Jacob couldn't believe his eyes when he saw all donations. Someone even donated eight new coats with the tags still on them. And it wasn't just coats, either. They received gloves and hats, new socks and tons of sweaters.

"I was thinking these are a lot of coats and that I can help a lot of people now," Jacob said.

His mom was stunned by the renewed response, too.

"I never in a million years imagined he was going to get 100," she said.

For days they sorted the coats by sizes before dropping them off at more schools than they expected, including Hudson Middle and High schools, Northwest Elementary, Chasco Middle and Elementary schools and Bayonet Point Middle.

They had so many coats, they donated some to the Volunteer Way food bank and the Holy Ground homeless shelter in Hudson.

And on Tuesday night, Jacob received his merit badge.

Warmth by the numbers

The donations to Jacob Balcerzak's coat drive included:


usable coats


lawn bags full of sweaters


pairs of new socks


pairs of gloves


winter hats



Hudson Boy Scout's coat drive yields heaps of warmth 12/22/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 22, 2011 8:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 17:  Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempts a pass during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  2. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, right, along with her mother Tranda Webb, 62, pose for a photograph Wednesday, at their home in Port Richey. Pasco's former boyfriend John Riggins doused Pasco with gasoline and set her on fire after an argument last year.. CHRIS URSO   |   Times

  3. Florida starter under center still under wraps


    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.
  4. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  5. Rick Kriseman picks Floribbean restaurant for Manhattan Casino

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG— Mayor Rick Kriseman has chosen a controversial restaurant concept to occupy the Manhattan Casino, saying he made a decision 11 days before the mayoral primary because he didn't want politics to get in the way of progress in struggling Midtown.

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson speaks during a Friday press conference announcing that the Callaloo Group will open a Floribbean restraurant in the historic Manhattan Casino in St. Petersburg's Midtown neighborhood. Some residents were upset with Mayor Rick Kriseman's choice, saying it will speed up gentrification of the area. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]