Warm Hands and Feet
Lions Help Feed and Clothe the Homeless
Gwendolyn Strain of the San Francisco Bayview Hunter’s Point Lions Club knows what it’s like to be cold and hungry. She was once homeless, but with a helping hand, she was able to get back on her feet and start giving back. She started out feeding the hungry by serving a small pot of soup out of her van. Soon Lions began to help her. When Gwen’s van broke down, the Lions helped pay for a new van to keep the food drive going.
San Francisco, California, USA
The Lions Step In
Lion Ken Ibarra of the San Bruno Lions Club and other Lions joined to help Gwen with her soup kitchen outside of the homeless shelter. As it got colder, the Lions began noticing that the people coming for soup were also cold. The Lions started bringing gloves and socks and taking donations to provide the homeless with clothing to stay warm. This effort eventually became the Warm Hands and Feet project, which helps clothe the homeless who come for food every week.
“If it weren’t for the Lions, there would be no Warm Hands and Feet Drive,” said Gwen. “But they stepped in and it helps hundreds of people.”
Gwen picks up food that is donated from the local Safe Way and Trader Joe’s, and uses it to prepare soup every outside the homeless shelter every Wednesday. The Warm Hands and Feet project provides full clothing distribution, including coats for colder weather, outside the shelter as well. Homeless people in the area know the Lions are there and line up for a warm meal and clothes. The Lions help serve about 150 people every Wednesday.
In addition to helping the homeless, other Lions community projects include improving public parks and playgrounds, updating food pantries and building new community facilities. The Warm Hands and Feet project is just one way in which Lions serve the people around them.
Tips and Tools
Organize a Clothing Drive in Your Community
Why did the club get involved in this project? »
While the city has a good homeless program, there are not always enough beds and meals for all the people who show up at the homeless shelters. Through the soup kitchen and Warm Hands and Feet, Lions provide a meal and clothing before the homeless go into the shelter.
How do you raise awareness about the project? »
We use Facebook to let people know we are in need of donations. Facebook also helps members know when Lions will be serving soup and how they can help.
What kinds of resources does it take to keep the project going? »
The food and clothing has all been through donations. We collect the donations and volunteers help sort clothing and get it ready for distribution.
Any words of advice? »
There are so many ways that Lions can help without a major fundraiser or a large club. It only takes a few people. You can cook a good soup and people will love it. And you can bring warm clothing. And they’ll come back.
"When I heard Lions serve the community, that caught my attention. I like to serve. "
Lions club member
"The Lions are just a small part of the great things communities do to help the needy. And it’s contagious. It’s instant gratitude."
Lions club member