At the end of a very long line one cold, January day, he waited patiently. Not ready to head back out into several feet of snow, he bypassed the racks of coats, piles of blankets, warm gloves and all variety of winter hats – beelining straight for the boots table, ticket in hand. The new boxes, stacked high and wide earlier in the day, were all gone or left behind, empty. We searched together for anything waterproof and warm in a size 11 or 12. Instinctively, I looked down at his water-stained pant hems and wet canvas shoes and prayed – apologizing to him and swearing to myself – next year I would do whatever I could to help BRING MORE BOOTS.
This short paragraph shared on my personal Facebook page in 2013 inspired acts of kindness from friends and strangers, teaching me that stories have the power to change lives.
The following year, I brought a van full of warm, waterproof boots with me to the Homeless Stand Down thanks to the “Boots and Britches” campaign launched by my sister and me. A promise kept.
The 28th annual Homeless Stand Down, happening on Saturday, Jan. 12, is expected to provide more than 1,600 guests at the Cleveland Public Auditorium with access to social service providers, haircuts, medical screenings, winter clothing, breakfast and lunch, personal care kits, bus passes and more.
This time each year, as the temperatures begin to drop, I think of all the men, women, and children who don’t have a good pair of boots or a safe place to go. But my heart is quickly warmed, knowing how much compassion and generosity the Homeless Stand Down always inspires. It takes hundreds of volunteers and thousands of dollars (plus countless donations of time and talent) to create this unique day of service.
Visit the HandsOn Northeast Ohio website to find out more about the Homeless Stand Down and to make an online donation. $50 pays for a pair of warm, waterproof boots. $10 covers underwear and warm socks. $5 means a bus pass home or to a doctor appointment.
Some clothing items are still needed and can be dropped off by Wednesday, Jan. 9, at HandsOn, 3615 Superior Ave., Unit 4203B, Cleveland. Make sure to call 216-432-9390 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to check that someone will be around to accept your donations. What’s needed:
- Men’s and women’s boots, sizes 9+
- Men’s and women’s underwear, L+
- Men’s coats, XL+
Volunteer for the afternoon shifts at the event on Jan. 12. Check with Megan for more specifics at the phone or email address above. You must pre-register to participate.
HandsOn will have a phone-a-thon for the Homeless Stand Down from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 8, on News 5 Cleveland. Watch the television program to find out how to give.