Cullen McCann lived by the expression, "I'll give you the shirt off my back." Seton Hall alumna, Kerry McCann '09/M.P.A. '11/M.A. '14/ M.A. '18, describes her brother Cullen as a hippie-hipster who believed in love and peace and acted when he saw an opportunity to help others. He once took off his shoes and gave them to a homeless person who had none and continued walking in his socks. He often spoke to his family about the homeless people he would pass during his commute. During the holidays, Cullen would leave family dinners with as many containers he could fill with the home cooked meals to hand out to people in need on his way home.
The McCann siblings: Kerry (left), Cullen (center), Desiree (right)
In November 2018, at the age of 41, Cullen McCann passed away. The news came as a shock to the family. During the grieving process, his sister Desiree, while talking to Cullen's friend, came up with the idea of honoring Cullen's legacy by creating a nonprofit. Coats from Cullen was created to continue his humanitarian efforts. The organization collects and distributes coats, blankets, shoes and warm clothing to the homeless. They have partnered with Covenant House in Newark, New Jersey, an organization that serves homeless youth, and Bergen Family Center, a family service agency that helps children, adults and seniors. Coats for Cullen aims to serve New Jersey and its homeless population. In February, the organization donated clothes to people who became homeless as a result of a recent fire in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Helping others, volunteering and paying it forward has been an integral part of the McCann family, the sisters admit. Their grandmother would often say the phrase, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." Kerry adds, "This tradition of servant leadership was one of the reasons I chose Seton Hall for my academic career and had numerous opportunities to help others through DOVE and other activities on campus. We hope at some point in the future we can partner with DOVE to collect and provide to those less fortunate."
This spring, Coats from Cullen is also collecting prom dresses for less fortunate high school girls and has again partnered with local agencies for distribution. For more information on the organization, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kerry McCann and her family is one example of What Great Minds Can Do with a Seton Hall education, exemplifying and living the Seton Hall legacy of servant leadership in a global society.