Families, kids collect clothes for homeless

Two Island efforts are under way to collect warm clothes for the homeless this month.

Both have collection points in town, and both hope to collect as many warm clothing items as possible in the next few weeks.

A group of Vashon families is collecting clothes to give to homeless people in Pioneer Square during Christmas week. Men’s coats are the most-needed item, said Desiree Nelson, a parent who’s involved in the effort to collect warm clothing. Sweatshirts, hats, gloves and socks also top the list.

“We want to get back to the meaning of the holidays,” she said. “It’s not about getting — it’s about giving.”

The group of 20 Islanders — 10 of them kids — are continuing a giving tradition that they began last year, when they made 50 hearty sack lunches for homeless people in Seattle and handed them out in Pioneer Square.

On Thanksgiving this year, they handed out 100 lunches, and brought along some coats as well.

“The 30 coats we had were gone in less than five minutes,” said Nelson. “They didn’t care about the food; they were worried about keeping warm. It didn’t even matter if it fit them — they wanted coats.”

As the nighttime temperatures in Seattle dip into the teens this month, coats are a necessity for those who spend their nights on the streets. It’s possible that shelters haven’t been receiving many donations of warm clothes this season, Nelson said.

“There’s a lot of people that really need it, and they don’t have much money to take care of themselves,” said Ravenna Nelson, 8. “They look really cold. Every time we go down there, they say, ‘Do you have any coats?’ I like to see the smile on their face when I give it to them.”

An Island middle-schooler has launched a similar campaign to gather warm clothing for those who don’t have any. Anneke Steneker, a seventh-grader, plans to distribute the clothes wherever they can be of the best use on Vashon or in Seattle.

She was motivated to collect coats and other wintertime wear when she saw a group of people outside a Seattle homeless shelter, shivering on a frosty day.

“I like to think about other people, especially now during the holidays, and think about how they don’t have a place to be, and how cold they look all bundled up,” Steneker said. “In my family, we have stuff we’re not using in a pile, and it made me think, ‘How many other families might have a pile like that that could be put to use?’”

Steneker hopes to collect clothing for the next month and distribute clothes in January.

Drop off warm clothes for the multi-family effort at Pandora’s Box or the Vashon bus barn. Drop off clothes for Steneker to distribute at Minglement, Vashon Family Practice or Vashon Bookshop.

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