Clothing Drive To Benefit Homeless Lower Haighters

Flickr / Eddy Chang
By Mike Gaworecki - Published on December 18, 2014.
Lower Haighters have a history of pulling together in times of adversity, and, in that spirit, a group of neighborhood residents is organizing a “cold-weather clothing drive” for local families who can use a little help this winter.

Several Oak Street neighbors are working with the First Friendship Institutional Baptist Church located at 501 Steiner to make sure all of the donations go “to make the holidays a little bit warmer” for families in need.

You can take your donations to Key Food Market (501 Fillmore) or Merch (629 Haight). All donations will be delivered to First Friendship on December 24th and distributed to the families making use of the church’s overnight shelter services.

A website for the drive, which the organizers are calling “A Close-Knit Community,” has all the information you could need on how to help, including a list of the most-needed clothing items, maps of drop-off points, and more. (You can also see the flyer below for more info.)

Chris Myers, who has lived in the Lower Haight since 2010 and is serving as de facto spokesperson for the group organizing the clothing drive, says there are two important things to note if you want to make a donation:

1. Most of the donations are for children. According to the most recent list of shelter patrons, 38 of them are kids, and most are between the ages of six months to six years old.

2. Clothing donations should be new. I'm sure the shelter would accept (and be happy for) used clothing donations, but because we are presenting these as gifts, we'd like them to be new. Also, we're looking for basics like hats, gloves, underwear and socks--with those items, new is definitely preferable.
In addition to the 38 children, there are 12 adults who stand to benefit from the generosity of Lower Haighters who contribute to the clothing drive. And while the shelter would probably welcome your donations of money or volunteer services, “A Close-Knit Community” is focused solely on getting new, warm clothes to everyone at First Friendship for the holidays.

If you need extra incentive to help your neighbors out, local boutique Merch is not only a collection center for the clothing drive, but is offering 15 percent off its merchandise to anyone who drops off a donation.

If you have a “gently used” coat or blanket you really want to donate, Buffalo Exchange is accepting donations at all of its SF locations.

Myers tells Hoodline that the way Lower Haighters rallied together in the wake of the fire that destroyed the Walgreens at Haight and Fillmore in 2011, displacing 14 residents, was in part a motivating factor:

"I remember walking home from work that day and seeing the endless line of police cars and firetrucks lining the streets. In the immediate aftermath, there were flyers around the neighborhood advertising the fundraiser for the families affected, and Hoodline/Haighteration ran a piece on other ways to give and help out (I still have my "Best Damn Neighborhood" t-shirt that helped raise support funds). It was a terrible event, but it really galvanized people and brought out the best in the neighborhood. There's so much animosity and culture clashes in and around The City these days, so it was really something to see so many people coming together so quickly for a good cause and help their neighbors out. That's really the spirit we're hoping to tap into with the clothing drive."
Given all the cold and rain we’ve had lately, now is definitely a good time to consider those among us who have no place to call home.

Homelessness is certainly an issue that San Francisco struggles with. A recent report by the San Francisco Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office found that, despite the ambitious 10-year plan to abolish chronic homelessness adopted in 2004, the number of homeless individuals in the city has increased slightly, from 6,248 in January 2005 to 6,436 in January 2013.

Here's more information about the initiative:

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