People in need of winter gear gathered before dawn this past Thanksgiving. Throughout the morning, more arrived. By noon, when the final red backpack and last woman’s jacket had been handed out, 272 people had participated in 2012 “Survive the Streets,” a gear giveaway co-sponsored by Real Change and the nonprofit Survive the Streets created by Mike Grabham and Patti Dunn.
Those who braved the morning came looking for clothing and gear that locals donated to Real Change and numerous satellite locations throughout town. During the three-hour giveaway, more than 200 sleeping bags, several hundred jackets, socks, backpacks, hats, cold kits, tarps, gloves, fleece throws and dozens of pairs of boots were passed out to men, women and children. Participants included Real Change vendors, along with clients from Compass Housing Alliance, Bread of Life Mission, El Centro de la Raza, Downtown Emergency Services Center and others who heard about the event. Volunteers handed out hot breakfast sandwiches, while Top Pot Doughnuts on Third Avenue provided hot coffee and doughnuts.
This year’s number surpassed expectations. Though more than 270 people received at least one donated item, some people in line had to be turned away. Sleeping bags, among the most coveted items, ran out by 11:30 a.m. Those who left empty-handed swore they’d return earlier next year.