by Morgan Moore
This holiday season has been very good to the Free Clothing Program thanks to generous donors committed to spreading the word about our need for coats and setting up Donation Drives in their workplace, apartment buildings, schools, etc. Every year we partner with One Warm Coat and are the recipients of donations from Coat Drives from all around the Bay Area. One Warm Coat is a non-profit organization which started in San Francisco in 1992. Their goals are to develop and nurture the volunteer spirit in caring people everywhere; to make it easy to help those in need in local communities; and to provide tools and resources to help volunteers organize coat drives, publicize their events and connect with local Agencies to distribute donated coats.
We started off this year’s One Warm Coat drive the day after Thanksgiving with an on-site drive at the Ferry Building. With the help of the Girl Scouts and their Troop Leader Gaycia Parks, we collected almost 1,000 coats for men, women, and children! From there we have had over 20 companies and individuals organize One Warm Coat drives for us including Burlington Coat Factory, The Container Store, 7-11, which conducted a 50+ store Bay Area-wide coat drive, and Mochi Media to name a few. We were also incredibly impressed and uplifted by the number of high school students that started drives in their schools and with friends and family.
Candace Diamos collected so many coats that her father Barney, who also does a lot of work in his own community with homeless veterans and seniors, had to drop them off in one of the biggest pick-up trucks we had ever seen. Madison Castagnola not only did a coat drive in her school, but also gave a presentation to the entire student body about homelessness and the work we do here at St. Anthony’s. It was so successful that even a class of kindergarteners donated children’s pajamas that they wrapped as holiday presents. Her little sister Riley has promised us that she will be president one day. We’re still trying to convince Madison to put in for Secretary of State. And Jasmine Jaciw started Project Jazzy J with the goal of collecting 2,015 coats by the time she graduates in 2015. In only a few months, she had already collected 227 coats.
The tremendous outpouring of support has allowed us to distribute a bit of warmth and comfort to many of our guests. In December alone we were able to give out over 600 coats despite being open for only three weeks that month.
As we’ve all come to know, it is always winter in San Francisco. As Mark Twain famously said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” So don’t forget that we accept coats year round! Men’s coats are especially hard for us to keep in stock. If you are interested in conducting a coat drive please contact Morgan Moore at email@example.com or check out our website for details: http://www.stanthonysf.org/?q=donate/donate-clothes
A huge thank you to One Warm Coat! Also to all those individuals that organized Donation Drives for us. We rely exclusively on donations to run our program so if you have one warm coat that you would like to go to someone in need, please think of us!
In photo: Madison Castagnola (far right) and her mom, Bernie Castagnola (2nd from left), drop off clothing for St. Anthony’s guests during this year’s holiday Curbside donation drives.
Morgan Moore is the Volunteer Coordinator at St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program.