Abundance of scarves given to St. Anthony's

December 25, 2010 12:19:30 AM PST
Charities are gearing up for Christmas Day and one group in particular is burning the midnight oil. The restaurant, Lefty O'Doul's, is making its final push to collect toys for needy children. The outpouring of donations has been overwhelming.

The toys kept coming. Some chose to drop them off by foot, others took advantage of the curbside drop-off.

"I have two little grandchildren, little boys, and I thought it would be nice to give to a little child that's not my own," says Bonnie Orr, a donor.

Lefty O'Doul's restaurant and the San Francisco firefighters union have been working together this holiday season to provide toys for needy children. Their goal was $10,000 toys. They appear to be on track, thanks to people like donor Rachel Polish of San Francisco.

"We're very lucky, we've been incredibly lucky and we just wanted to do our part because we would hope that someone would help us in the same situation," says Polish.

The big surprise of the night, Lefty O'Doul's owner Nick Bovis presented the firefighters union with a check for $7,500.

Santa John, who was fired from Macy's a few weeks ago for telling a joke that some considered inappropriate, was key in raising that money. The restaurant had been charging $10 for photos with Santa. Now, all of that money will go to the toy program.

"I was definitely surprised by the amount. That amount only came from the pictures alone. People are still donating cash, money, and gift cards here," says San Francisco Fire Lt. Ken Smith.

The season of giving is also in high gear at the St. Anthony Foundation in the Tenderloin. There, it's not toys but scarves that have been coming in.

"They're stunning. It's been a daily, as the scarves have come in the staff has been, 'Hah, did you see this one?'" says Francis Aviani from the St. Anthony Foundation.

All are hand-knit made expressly for this scarf giveaway. The call went out over the summer and word went viral over the internet. Knitters around the world started working on their craft, and now St. Anthony's has 7,000 scarves which they plan to hand out Christmas Day.

"I think a lot of people want to be able to do something for people in need and they don't always know how. So when people heard of the idea of knit a scarf, so many people said, 'Oh, well, I can do that. That's something I can do,'" says Aviani.

St. Anthony's was hoping for 2,500 scarves and they got nearly three times that. And as for Lefty O'Doul's toy drive, about 15,000 toys have been collected and there was still two hours to go before their drive ended.


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