Hugs Not Drugs Launches Pilot Program On The South Fork

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A 30-year nonprofit organization has launched a PILOT program as part of its push to reinvent itself.

Hugs Not Drugs, a New Jersey-based company that has educated students nationwide on the dangers of drug use, is partnering with some East End community groups this month to raise money and awareness by collecting used personal items for resale on eBay and amazon.com.

Large storage units donated by pods.com are at the parking lots of the Sag Harbor Elementary School, the East Hampton YMCA and the Southampton Youth Services building for anyone wanting to donate used clothing, handbags, jewelry, cameras, leather goods, antiques, tools and even artwork. All items should be in good condition for resale.

David Waksman, chairman of Hugs Not Drugs, said that 50 percent of the money raised from the sale of the items will go to the community groups that participate in the collections, and the rest will be used by Hugs Not Drugs to continue its mission of educating young people about substance abuse. The company also will distribute a portion of the proceeds to local nonprofits and groups that run drug awareness and drug treatment programs. Mr. Waksman said that those groups are still to be determined based on community input.

“People have excess inventory that sits in their basements. Why not give them a place to donate their items, and they know exactly that this is going into the local community?” Mr. Waksman said.

The company, started by Mr. Waksman’s mother 30 years ago, suffered financially when she became too elderly to run it any longer. The March drives in the Hamptons are expected to breathe new life into the organization, which in the past printed and distributed educational materials to schools across the country to teach kids about drug addiction.

“I believe it makes good sense to partner with like-minded programs,” said East Hampton YMCA aquatic director Tom Cohill. “It’s going to be very exciting. We’re all looking forward to seeing how we can make this work.”

Mr. Cohill said that money received from the local project can go toward the YMCA’s summer camp program. “Camp makes a lot of sense, especially in this time when most kids have two parents working,” he said.

Jennifer Ponzini, who is president of the Sag Harbor PTA, said that partnering with Hugs Not Drugs is important for Sag Harbor schools. “We can help raise awareness and increase dialogue,” she said.

The pods will be at the East Hampton and Southampton locations until March 23. The Sag Harbor Elementary School pods will be attended by students or other volunteers on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

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