07/08/2015 16:48 EDT | Updated 07/08/2016 01:12 EDT

Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey donates clothing to help unemployed men

TORONTO — Dwane Casey remembers the one sports coat he owned in his youth.

His mom painstakingly saved the $60 and purchased the coat from the men's clothing shop in Morganfield, Ken. — navy blue because it went with everything.

The Toronto Raptors head coach has worn out probably dozens of sport coats since, but the significance of that first one isn't lost on the 58-year-old.

So Casey recently packed up 12 to 15 of his suits, plus an array of shirts and ties, and brought them to Moores for the Canadian Suit Drive, which provides proper business attire to men trying to find jobs.

"I've been blessed over the years and I want to help guys to feel good about themselves when they're going for job interviews," Casey said. "You walk in for a job interview, you feel good about yourself, you look the part, you get that confidence going."

Now in its sixth year, the goal is 75,000 clothing up items, up from the 72,000 the program received last year. They'll go to more than 60 participating recipient organizations.

Casey, who is a year into his three-year $11 million deal, can relate to men who are struggling. He worked at numerous odd jobs growing up, from the coal mine to tobacco fields.

"Growing up it was humble beginnings. No question (I haven't forgotten)," he said. "I totally can relate to guys going in for job interviews, and not having a tie, not having a white shirt, and that type of thing to wear.

"That's why I think as coaches we can do things to help. We have plenty, we as NBA coaches and players are all very blessed to be in a profession so that we can provide for. And I think we have an obligation to help any way we can."

Casey, who said he still has about 15 suits, fondly remember his first decent paying job, as a coach at Western Kentucky.  

"I was making $19,000 a year, and I thought I was rich," he said. "The school provided me with a car, and I had a little one bedroom apartment, and I really thought I had the world by the behind.

"I went out and bought me a bed and a kitchen table, and then I said 'Where did all that money go to?'" Casey added, laughing.

John Tavares of the New York Islanders is also a big supporter of the Suit Drive, which runs through July 31.

"A positive first impression is very important when you walk into an interview," Tavares said in a release. "When I show up to a game, wearing a nice suit, I'm prepared to take on any challenge I may face on the ice."

There were 749,000 reported cases of unemployed men across Canada in May.


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Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press