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Bringing warmth to SLO

Two students have organized a coat drive for the needy



LIFEGUARDS :  Erika Anderson (left) and Eva Sanders are devoted to helping the most disadvantaged community members. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • LIFEGUARDS : Erika Anderson (left) and Eva Sanders are devoted to helping the most disadvantaged community members.
Cal Poly students Eva Sanders and Erika Anderson are donating something to people who have no shelter that most people forget to appreciate around the Thanksgiving dinner table: warmth. 


In past weeks, the two best friends have organized “Warm a Cold Shoulder,” a coat drive directly benefiting SLO’s homeless population as well as the Prado Day Center and Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter. Asking for blankets and scarves, sweaters and beanies, these determined young ladies are chanting with enthusiasm, “May there not be a single cold shoulder in SLO this winter!” 


The drop-off event will take place Saturday Nov. 21, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Meadow Park Recreation Center on the corner of South and Meadow streets in San Luis Obispo. All donations are tax deductible.


In past weeks, Sanders and Anderson have distributed paper bags to the doorsteps of SLO neighborhoods, with a donation form attached and summary of their wish to warm the homeless this winter. Though they’ve been working hard, two people can make only a spark. Now it’s time for the SLO residents to step in and give a helping hand—or bag—to this cause.


Raised in Sonoma Valley, the women have found their passion for volunteering. “We both grew up with families that made us aware of our fortunate situation. This past year with the economy so low, it really inspired us to help others,” Anderson said. As full-time college students, money wasn’t something they could spare, but time was on their side.


“Erika came up with this idea that she really wanted to help the community,” says Sanders, “A way that we could do that, as college students without putting a lot of money into it, was that we could just ask people to donate their coats and winter clothing. When we first started we thought it was going to be a much smaller endeavor than it’s become. But it’s really great because a lot of people want to help us give to the community.”


Since this idea came about three months ago, the two have put their hearts and souls into the project, from working with the city and getting the proper facilities, to collecting bags from local grocery stores. It’s been a successful endeavor and it’s certainly not their last


Anderson notes, “What started as an inspiration has further inspired us. I have totally enjoyed this experience. We’ve learned that it doesn’t take that much work. People want to give. You don’t have to coax them into it; you don’t have to trick them. They want to help you and they want to give.


“If you have a passion for something it doesn’t have to be your job. You can pursue it in a volunteering kind of way. It not only fulfills your life, but it really helps other people. That’s what makes a community,” Anderson adds. “That’s what’s going to get us through these hard times. Just donate a little bit of time. If you have something to bring to the community—you should bring it.”


So bring it: the mittens, the umbrellas, the socks, and coats you wish you had every time you’ve been cold and unable to go home. Come to the drop-off event Nov. 21 and make a difference for somebody this winter. For more information, including a downloadable donation sheet, visit or e-mail


Fast facts


Arbor Day Foundation has created a way to send greeting cards, and save America’s national forests all in one. National forests devastated by wildfires, insects, and disease are in need of help. Every Give-A-Tree card plants one tree in honor of the recipient. Cards come in 21 varieties, some of which are available in boxed sets of 5 or 10 cards. Help future generations further enjoy the beauty of Christmas and the trees that make it beautiful by going to


Holiday Boutique at the Pavilion on the Lake in Atascadero is a great way to kick off holiday shopping. Local craft vendors will display handmade items perfect for the holidays. It’s all happening Saturday, Nov. 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free; 9315 Pismo Avenue. For more information see or call 470-3178   


Collaboration 2009 is an annual forum for nonprofit groups who would like help. Consultants offer customized support in such areas as: coaching for performance, identifying success factors, and developing action steps. Application forms can be downloaded from Contact Maria Fabula at the Nonprofit Support Center, 547-2244 Ext. 11. Applications must be received by 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 23.


Intern Lisa Spencer wrote this week’s Strokes&Plugs. Send your business and nonprofit news to

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