Coat Drive Report by Olivia Franco and Nicky Trasvina, December 13, 2022
On Thanksgiving Day, 2022 (November 24th) I commenced with the Coat Drive program. I have witnessed many families with small children and teenagers who are unaccustomed to the cold SF weather, even when there is sun. They are not expecting the temperatures to dip as low as they do and they often arrive to our programs or to school ill-prepared for the weather. I wanted to provide them with the basics to keep them warm and healthy. With my experience in multiple non-profits, I listed my contacts and put to life the Coat Drive program! Since Thanksgiving we have collected approximately 200 jackets! They will be distributed to kids from several shelters and low-income families on Tuesday, December 13th , nineteen days after the program’s inception. The list of organizations include Buena Vista Shelter, Providence Shelter, Coleman Advocates, Harbor Lights, and the Latino Task Force. Thanks is given to the following groups for their acts of generosity in making many donations: Community Living Campaign neighborhoods Sunnyside, Midtown, and the Merced Extension Triangle and their Connectors; Bay Area Community Resource; Latino Task Force; and other private parties.
The motivation for this project, besides the obvious of helping the children, is to model to others in my organization (CLC) and demonstrate the value of organizing service projects to help others. I encourage others to do similar projects when they see people in need, especially children. I think this is a great activity for our seniors, especially those who are not necessarily in financial need, but in need of emotional connection and to fulfill their own desire to feel needed. As my colleague has indicated when we have co-coordinated other service projects, seniors do well and thrive when they are able to contribute and feel part of the process of giving, in any capacity.
On Tuesday, December 13th, we assembled at 3 pm to set up the coat giveaway at CASA AYUDA at 4834 Mission Street in the heart of the Excelsior District, the district with the highest population of kids in all of SF. At Casa Ayuda we gave away over 250 jackets in two hours!
I expected to see the look of joy on all the kids’ faces and watch them having fun trying on the jackets for their parents to see. I expected laughter and smiles as they modeled the jackets to each other and their parents. What I saw instead was a line of mostly single parents waiting with several children in a long line against the dim lit storefronts of mostly closed stores, doors away from a large construction site. The parents looked tired, but patient. The children were pretty quiet and nice. Their demeanor led me to believe they were grateful that this program was made available to them. The helpful volunteers kept the crowd moving in a time-efficient way. All this made their considerable long wait in line worth it for the sake of saving twenty or thirty dollars on a jacket their child would outgrow in a year. As a witness to this process, it made me wonder what other lines these families have to face as the week progresses, simply to attain their basic household necessities, such as the food line at the Latino Task Force site every Friday. Lines have become a way of life for many. The irony of coordinating a project that helps people is that it actually triggers a sense of sadness not lost on me. “It is better to give than to receive” is questionable as this experience brings to light the disparities many of our community members come face to face with in our own city, in our lives, and we can only impact in soft, short-term ways. Giving is two-fold. It produces pleasure in the giving but also releases pain as we can never give enough. The lesson learned is that we can never stop giving and there is nothing as being too generous.
I want to thank CLC for their part in this project. Please look for the photos I will send so you can really feel the love! And thank you for your continued support and promotion of the programs I love bringing to CLC.