White Pony Express' Cold Weather Project Delivers Warmth
‘Tis the season for “All of us taking care of all of us!" Winter is here and it’s the time of year when many of our unhoused and unsheltered Contra Costa neighbors need a warm-up. Problems of homelessness in our local communities are complicated, without one reason or one source, but there are simple ways to help this season through White Pony Express (WPE)’s Cold Weather Project.
Founded as WPE’s Cold Weather Clothing Program in 2016, this Project now addresses winter needs beyond clothing and boots and includes winter necessities from tarps to sleeping bags with pads and even emergency backpacks. For many people in our County, just staying warm is their wish for the holidays. WPE’s goal is to bring more than 12,000 cold weather supplies and 500 emergency backpacks to comfort more than 3,000 people without homes this winter season.
Partnering to make wishes come true
Starting in late summer, WPE contacts Contra Costa agencies who care for unsheltered men, women, and children during rainy, chilly months and by the onset of winter brings cold weather supplies to community and faith-based organizations as well as schools all over the County including:
Trinity Center of Walnut Creek
Loaves and Fishes Martinez location
Pittsburg United Methodist Church and New Destiny Church in Pittsburg
And even Contra Costa County Library locations in San Pablo, El Cerrito, Concord, Brentwood, Rodeo, Pinole, El Sobrante, Hercules, Crocket, Martinez, and Oakley
That’s quite a list!
Douglas Thomas, Librarian at the Oakley Library, demonstrates just how important this list is. Douglas explains:
“We’ve seen an increase in the use of our libraries by homeless people because most shelters are closed during the day. Libraries have become warming centers. We are requesting an increase in emergency backpacks from WPE to hand out to our homeless population. In particular, those who may not get a spot in a night shelter.”
And, WPE is happy to help.
Supplies that make for a head-to-toe warm-up
Through the years, WPE has discovered ensuring head-to-toe warmth is in the details so WPE queries each agency for gaps in need and aims to fill those need gaps through the Cold Weather Project. And, needs do vary.
Some agencies need sleeping bags with pads, other agencies need winter coats and boots, and some agencies need it all – emergency backpacks included. These WPE backpacks are chockfull of supplies that do a lot of good: Mylar blankets, tarps, rain suits, umbrellas, hats, gloves, scarves, toasty socks, thermal underwear, hand and foot warmers, fleece blankets, Clif Bars, and hygiene kits complete with toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, and combs.
Tucked in each backpack is also a listing of local social service locations and 211 cards to connect people to resources for additional help. Sometimes help is even needed – and found - not so far from WPE’s Pleasant Hill Distribution Center.
Steve Harrell, Operations Manager of the Cold Weather Project, shares a recent occurrence.
“A few days ago I was at a large shopping center just a short walk from WPE. I saw a man sitting on a bench at the center and introduced myself. He wished me a happy holiday and said he didn’t do drugs or drink alcohol. As we talked further, he shared with me that he’s barely able to rent a room and could really use a warm jacket,” said Steve.
“I went straight back to WPE, got a coat in his size (XL) and an emergency backpack from the Cold Weather Project and delivered both to him promptly with a huge smile.”
That’s the magic of WPE and Steve at work.
Gifts that give back – donate now
You can donate to keep WPE (and Steve!) delivering winter necessities and making wishes come true. Here are just a few examples of how WPE will put your donation into immediate action:
$30 provides a pair of boots
$100 provides two emergency backpacks
$150 provides a warm new jacket and a sleeping bag
$300 provides four new winter coats
$500 provides enough survival gear for a family of four
With every donation, WPE is getting closer to meeting our year-end campaign goal of raising $500,000 and warming up our Contra Costa neighbors. Together we can do this!