Redwood City girl collects coats for homeless

SAN FRANCISCO

The coats -- nearly 600 of them -- filled up the bed of a pickup truck headed for St. Anthony's in San Francisco. The large donation was not from a large corporation or a wealthy philanthropist, but from an 11-year-old who wanted to help feel a need.

"It feels really good to be able to do this," said Amy Gifford.

Gifford of Redwood City watched the TV show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and decided she wanted to help people in need. She immediately thought of how cold the homeless must be in San Francisco.

"I've seen a lot of homeless people in San Francisco who need a lot," Gifford said. "Coats keep people warm."

Gifford's father is the manager at a local CVS Pharmacy and suggested placing bins in front of stores around the Bay Area.

"She sent a letter out to all of them and told her story, what she wanted to do," said father Lee Gifford. "Everybody got on board. Who could say no to her? She's adorable and she has a great heart."

Last year she collected about 500 coats for St. Anthony's, so she decided to do it again. This year, she brought in nearly 600.

"I think this year they'll be gone by the end of January given the increased volume that we see," said Shari Roeseler with St. Anthony's.

St. Anthony's is the largest free clothing program but the agency is struggling to keep up with the demand. Roeseler said with the coat donations, she's confident anyone who needs one will get one this year.

"No matter how young, how old you are, if you set your heart and mind to something you can accomplish some wonderful things for other people," Roeseler said.

"It was big for a kid to be doing this," said Giffords, "but I just think more kids should be starting to do this."

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