President participates in One Warm Coat

December 22, 2008 7:14:12 PM PST
President Bush paid tribute on Monday to a holiday tradition that began in San Francisco 16 years ago. The First Lady also promised she would see to it that Dallas followed the Bay Area's lead, when they move there after the President leaves office.

At the White House President and Mrs. Bush donated coats to the One Warm Coat drive. One of 2,000 such drives taking place across the country.

"It's an effort a nationwide effort to convince our fellow citizens to contribute a used, but not overly-used, coat," said President Bush.

Sherri Lewis Wood of San Francisco is the national coordinator of One Warm Coat. ABC7 spoke with Wood by phone just minutes after her White House visit.

"Well it was just an awesome day to meet with President and Mrs. Bush and to have them talk about the purpose and meaning of One Warm Coat which is to help another person," said Wood.

And since the One Warm Coat began in 1992, three quarters of a million coats have been donated. The person who started it all was San Francisco philanthropist Lois Pavlow.

"The first year it was overwhelming because we had the kickoff party at this club and all the football players everybody came and they brought coats. We had maybe 200 to 300 that night," said Pavlow.

The football players Pavlow is referring to were San Francisco 49ers. On Monday, a representative from the San Francisco Giants showed up at St. Anthony's One Warm Coat donation center at 8th and Mission with 110 warm coats.

"It was actually pretty big it was actually one of our largest responses that we've had yet. I think this is our fifth year doing it," said Carolyn Della Maggiore, from the San Francisco Giants.

In that first year of donations Macy's was a big sponsor. Last year Burlington Coat Factory decided it too wanted to help.

"175,000 coats is what our company donated and 7,400 from the Bay Area," said Jeff Close, from the Burlington Coat Factory.

When the program went national, ABC's Good Morning America joined in as a sponsor and now it was the President's turn. Did Lois Pavlow ever dream her idea would catch on this big?

"[Laughs] Absolutely not," said Pavlow.

Does she feel a sense of pride?

"Well it feels good, but the program is a feel-good program," said Pavlow.

With the same spirit that launched One Warm Coat, Pavlow would much rather talk about the program than about her contribution.

Accepting donations for One Warm Coat:
One Warm Coat: click here
Saint Anthony's Church at 8th and Mission: click here
All Burlington Coat Factory stores: click here


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