By Doug Porter
It’s easy to make light of the colder weather Southern California has experienced over the past few days. People from the east county were joking on Twitter this morning about having to use spatulas to clear their windshields of frost. But for the thousands of San Diego’s who live on the streets, the chilly temperatures are pure torture.
While the weather conditions locally can’t compare with those in northern tier cities, it doesn’t take below freezing temperatures to induce hypothermia, a potentially fatal drop in body temperature, usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. And San Diego simply lacks enough shelter space for its homeless population when the temperature drops. Four people have died from exposure in the Bay Area in the past weeks and well over 700 die annual from exposure to the elements.
While many organizations are involved in collecting needed items for our local homeless population, two groups have reached out to the San Diego Free Press in recent days asking for our help in getting the word out. The need is real and these folks are looking for your help.
Occupy San Diego is collecting donations for ‘our houseless friends’ that they’ll be distributing on December 20, 2013 from 4-6pm at Civic Center. They are particularly looking for sweatshirts, jackets, coats, socks, shoes, blankets, gloves, toiletries, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, backpacks, hats, bus/trolley passes.
If you can’t bring it to the Civic Center, they have volunteers that will pick it up from you. Arrangements can be made via their Facebook Event Page, by email at email@example.com, or donating needed items via a Gift Wish List on Amazon.
The “Compassion Campaign” of the San Diego Veterans For Peace begins its fourth year this winter, seeking donations from the public and purchasing and delivering new sleeping bag sets to the most needy of the 1000 homeless sleeping on the streets and alleys in downtown San Diego.
Veteran chapter members learned from homeless vets on the street how a sleeping bag, waterproof stuff sack, and reusable poncho could change the lives of people on the street who had no protection from the elements at night, since the downtown shelters are all full. With the generous help of the public, over 1,800 sets have now been purchased and delivered quietly late at night by chapter veterans to the most needy homeless on the street.
Sets are purchased for $33 each from the Coleman Company in Colorado, in quantities of 50, well below wholesale, with Coleman paying the freight and charging no sales tax. Donors receive a beautiful card of thanks (a great Christmas gift) and receipt for taxes, as they are a 501-C-3 non-profit veterans educational organization. 100% of donations buys gear. To donate by credit card: www.SDVFP.org or send your check to: SDVFP, 12932 Sunderland Street, Poway, CA 92064. For more information, please call 858-342-1964.