Jersey boys on a mission: To collect old clothes and cash donations for the PHL

Cranford kids (from left) Tim O’Donnell, Josh Furer and Ryan Sawyer

Cranford kids (from left) Tim O’Donnell, Josh Furer and Ryan Sawyer

By Cristina DC Pastor

The morning after Typhoon Haiyan mauled the Philippines’ Visayan islands with unmatched fury, three well-scrubbed suburban boys from Cranford, New Jersey sprang into action.

“I asked Ryan if he wants to help. He’s my best friend, he lives on my street,” said Josh Furer, 12, a seventh-grader at Hillside Avenue School. “He said, cool, that’ll be fun.”

Josh and Ryan Sawyer enlisted the help of a third friend, Tim O’Donnell, who needed no coaxing. Like Josh whose mother is Filipino and whose father is Jewish, Tim has a Filipino mother and an Irish dad. Ryan of Irish-Polish ethnicity is the only non-Filipino. All three on board, the boys began to pass around colorful fliers: “USED CLOTHING DRIVE to raise funds for the victims of typhoon/earthquake in the Philippines.”

On foot and on skateboards, the trio began to saturate their immediate neighborhood with information about the Philippines and the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan. In their affluent township of Cranford, according to Josh’s mother, Jen Furer, there are only six Filipino families.

“Not as much Filipinos as there are Italians,” said Josh.

The boys stuck fliers inside mailboxes, posted them on their school’s bulletin boards, and passed them around offices. Their game plan is to collect as many clothes and blankets which they intend to sell to for $0.17-$0.25 a pound. The boys got the idea from Jen, who helped them find a website that would convert their clothing to cash.

Josh said he also donated $30 from his savings. As of press time, the boys have collected a total of $50.60 plus a dozen trash bags full of used clothes. Jen said the boys were joined in their clothing drive by local schools and businesses, such as the Cranford High School University Program, Magnet School, Scotch Plains School, Weichert Realty of Union and Westfield, Jersey Mortgage and

The cash donations will likely be split between the Philippine Red Cross and the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation’s Brick by Brick project.

“I want to help,” said Josh. “I have family in the Philippines, though they’re not affected as other people.”

Josh has grandparents from his mother’s side, and five uncles. His last visit to the Philippines was in the summer of 2006 when he was 5.

“The people were very nice,” he said, the memory flashing back to the beautiful scenery and also the giant mosquitoes that “attacked” his arms and legs. He remembered how much he enjoyed water-rafting in Laguna with his family.

“There are a lot of poor people on the streets but they seemed happy, they were singing and dancing,” he said.

Josh said the clothing drive is his way of helping Filipinos who “do not have as much money.”

Exhausted but having fun, the boys crash on bags of clothes

Exhausted but having fun, the boys crash on bags of clothes


  1. Lumen wrote:

    congratulations, jersey boys on doing such outstanding job of collecting clothes for the Philippines.

  2. Jen wrote:

    Just a correction: is paying $0.17 – $0.25 per pound , depending on the total weight collected. Thank you.

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