Piles of donated clothes filled the community room at Homage Senior Services after this weekend’s cold-weather clothing drive to support veterans within the homeless community.
The event was sponsored by The Heroes’ Cafe in partnership with Homage, the American Red Cross and the City of Lynnwood. Dozens of community members dropped off used and new coats, sweaters, boots and scarves that will be distributed throughout homeless camps in the area.
The clothing drive — a first for the organization — was an “overwhelming” success, according to Heroes’ Cafe Director Gary Walderman.
“I was saying my eyes were too big for my stomach,” he said.
The Heroes’ Cafe is a widespread network aimed at supporting veterans across South Snohomish County. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization hosted monthly gatherings that began with veterans meeting for coffee and has since expanded as a way to connect them with much-needed resources.
Typically the meetings were a place for veterans experiencing homelessness to access basic hygiene products. Walderman said this was the first time they have made a concerted effort to collect clothing for veterans.
Donations were used to build packages containing clothing for cold weather with each package containing a coat, sweater, long sleeve undershirt, leggings, hat, gloves, socks and pants. Boots, scarves and other items were also donated.
The event was advertised throughout the week leading up to the drive, and many community members came by to drop off clothing they found while cleaning out their closets. Several donated new items as well, including Amazon’s Everett-based distribution center, which donated dozens of rain coats.
After the drive, volunteers packaged the clothing to be picked up by one of several community partners to distribute among the homeless community. Some partners included the Edmonds Food Bank, Everett Gospel Mission and Sebastian Place.
“These are the front-line folks that will be out in the homeless camps and working with the homeless veterans and veterans that are in need,” Walderman said.
–By Cody Sexton