Washington, D.C. – March 25, 2010 – Gifts for the Homeless (GFTH), a D.C. based non-profit that has been helping the homeless for more than twenty years, announced today that this winter it purchased a record amount of clothing and warm blankets — approximately one million dollars worth for area homeless shelters.

“Gifts for the Homeless uses 100% of every dollar donated by the general public to purchase warm clothing and blankets for the homeless,” said GFTH President and Chairman Bart Epstein.  “Because we pool large numbers of donations and then buy clothing in large quantities directly from manufacturers, this winter we were able to purchase thousands of hooded sweatshirts for less than five dollars each; thousands of hats for less than sixty cents each; and more than ten thousand pairs of warm socks for forty six cents each.”

Continual feedback from shelters that receive annual donations from GFTH shows that the program has a substantial impact on the lives of area homeless:

Inge Ashley, Director of In-Kind Donations at Martha’s Table, says:  “Especially this year with the cold weather, GFTH is the only organization that provides us with large amounts of new goods.  It is our only source of new clothing, and allows us to send out large quantities of these goods on our vans in the evenings, along with food, to help keep the homeless warm and fed.  We repack the new clothing and put the items in bins every night at four McKenna’s Wagon locations – especially thermal socks and gloves, and knit caps.  The new clothing provided by GFTH is really good quality.  Top quality.  And our clients are very happy to receive these items.  Even during the summer, it is a great help to us that, through GFTH, we are able to give out socks and underwear to the homeless every weekend.  We also put socks, gloves and thermals in goodie bags, along with lunches, that we distribute to 70 low-income seniors at the15th and U Street location.”

Lynette Daniels, Program Director for the Samaritan Inns Intensive Recovery Program echoed Ms. Ashley’s remarks:  “We so very, very grateful that GFTH has included us as one of the organizations that received new clothing.  I see first-hand the large amount, and excellent quality, variety, and abundance of the new clothing provided to us.  We have people coming to us who have only the clothes on their back.  Because of the new clothing items we receive from GFTH, these folks can come here and choose which new clothing items they need.  One woman came in, and when she saw the choices of new clothing available to her she cried and she cried.  GFTH meets a critical need, and is such a blessing to us, particularly because the items are new and come in a variety of sizes, with lots of choices.  This year, the people at GFTH outdid themselves, delivering larger sizes, which we were really excited to receive.  So all of that contributes to the wholeness we are trying to accomplish for each of our clients.  After they come here and are given good warm clothing and underwear, they can look in the mirror and feel better about themselves.  GFTH provided an incredible Christmas for our clients this year.”

Over at Miriam’s Kitchen, Jackie O’Neill, a volunteer who works directly with the homeless, says that the clients come up to her and say:  “ ‘OK, Jacki, when are the new clothes coming?’  They all know about the GFTH new clothes.  They can’t believe it’s really new!  The last couple of weeks, especially when it was so cold, we passed out new long underwear from GFTH.  The clients said:  ‘Where do you get this stuff?  It’s amazing.’ ”

According to Bart Epstein, GFTH has set an ambitious goal of eventually doubling the amount of funds it raises each year through its website and its annual summer concert, to approximately $500,000 – an amount GFTH hopes will allow it to meet the essential winter clothing needs of every homeless man, woman and child in the D.C. Metro area.

“Most of us can barely fathom what life would be like while struggling to keep warm in the winter.  Gifts for the Homeless is a great example of how much we can accomplish when we band together:  For the same $20 someone might spend to buy a set of warm underwear, Gifts for the Homeless can buy that same set of warm underwear  plus a pair of sweatpants, a sweater, and a dozen socks – and deliver it to a shelter with known needs.”

GFTH has grown exponentially since it was founded in 1986, when a handful of young lawyers collected a few hundred bags of clothing and about $3,000 in monetary donations.   This winter, over 250 volunteers turned out for GFTH’s annual Used Clothing Drive to help sort and deliver more than 3,300 bags of good-quality used clothing.  This past year GFTH collected more than $200,000 in monetary donations, primarily from those working in the legal community, and used those funds to buy more than 60,000 items of new warm clothing and blankets for the homeless.

GFTH’s annual summer concert will be held this year on June 24 at The Black Cat on 14th Street in D.C., and its annual Used Clothing Drive will return later this fall.

Law firms, private companies, and government agencies that want to support Gifts for the Homeless are welcome to participate in the annual clothing drive and/or to provide financial support by contacting Laurie Glassman at (202) 626-3594 or Bart Epstein at (202) 251-7527.   Individuals may visit www.gfth.org to make a donation to support GFTH and to learn more about the organization.

Laurie Glassman
(202) 626-3594