A CALL TO SERVICE: WPGS Clothing & Care Closets - Serving our Unhoused Neighbors
Updated: Nov 22, 2020
We have learned from the experiences of our partner agencies and those we serve that people experiencing homelessness need long-term, predictable access to basic needs like clothing. White Pony Express (WPE) will help our partner agencies expand their capacity to serve unsheltered people by offering clothing and other survival items through our mobile and partner-site Clothing & Care Closets.
Rising rents, healthcare, food, utility costs, and the economic crisis are changing the face of homelessness. Unhoused people are the working poor, young families, retired seniors, people with medical-related disabilities, and college students. Often they are living unhoused in neighborhoods where they not so long ago owned a comfortable home or rented an apartment. Now, they are trying to survive life dwelling in cars, RVs, and tents.
WPE’s objective is to distribute new, unworn, or premium lightly used clothing for free to anyone in need with no questions asked. These Closets will supply the people served by our partner agencies with everything from undergarments, socks, jeans, belts, flannel shirts, sweatshirts and pants, hats, lightweight athletic shoes, outerwear, sunglasses, sunscreen, sunhats, gloves, umbrellas, mylar blankets, tarps, and hand and foot warmers. We will treat Closet recipients as our guests and support them with love and dignity, offering only our best.
Closet guests will benefit immediately from access to a consistent source of clean clothing and other essential items. Wearing clothing that is properly fitted increases our chances of staying clean and healthy, getting and keeping a job, securing housing, obtaining medical care, and accessing transportation.
Guests will also benefit from having critical survival items. After Day Shelters closed, unhoused neighbors in our community have perished from exposure to extreme weather conditions. Between November and March, temperatures often dip below freezing overnight. In summer, daytime highs often reach 95–100, with even higher heat waves lasting three to five days at a time. With proper gear, unsheltered people have a greater chance of staying warm and dry during our long, cold rainy season and remaining cool during hot summer months. This increases the chances of survival and reduces medical issues, thereby promoting greater health and wellness among unhoused populations.
As an organization, WPE supports our partners with regular food deliveries and provides cold-weather clothing and emergency backpacks on an as-needed basis. But the need for clothing and critical survival items is a daily requirement – now more than ever. Establishing year-round Clothing & Care Closets will provide people with the clothing, shoes, and survival items they need. These Closets are a natural evolution of the services we offer to unsheltered people and our partnering agencies.
We are looking for people and businesses to sponsor our Clothing & Care Closets. Each Closet costs approximately $12,000 – $20,000 to stock and operate annually.. The White Pony General Store also welcomes donations of new, lightly worn, and like-new clothing and shoes at our Vincent Road location in Pleasant Hill.
We have also set up an Amazon Wish List where you can easily shop for the clothing needed by the people and agencies we serve: https://smile.amazon.com/hz/charitylist/ls/1TK8BRMFTQ5RG/ref=smi_cl_lol_lls0_ls0.
To sponsor a Clothing & Care Closet, set up a clothing or shoe drive, or learn more about opportunities to contribute, please contact Steve Harrell, WPGS Program Director at (925) 322-0604 ext.113 or Steveh@whiteponyexpress.org.