Winter coats, blessings warm the hearts of San Antonio’s homeless during Pearl Street Church’s Bags of Blessings outreach
On a cold, but sunny Saturday morning in January, 35 volunteers gathered at Pearl Street Church for Bags for Blessings, an outreach project to provide food, water, living essentials and coats to San Antonio’s homeless.
“I had no idea that my peanut butter and jelly sandwich making skills could be this beneficial,” lightly quipped Sharlene Thum, Five Star Cleaners Co-Founder, after helping make 70 sandwiches for those living on the streets. She helped volunteers load bags with the sandwiches, bottled water, granola bars, shampoo, soap, socks and other living essentials into the coat-packed Five Star Cleaners van.
Volunteers lined their cars behind the van, creating a caravan as it made its way downtown to West Houston Street and North Frio Street, where Pearl Street Church has been providing a helping hand to San Antonio’s homeless since September 2018.
“We started Bags of Blessings to build relationships with people living on the streets—so they knew they were not alone and that there are a lot of people who care about their well-being,” said Amanda Mosley, Pearl Street Church Community Outreach Director. “Our hope is not only to provide for a need, but to have one-on-one intimate conversations to build relationships with every person we meet.”
Pearl Street Church is one of the beneficiaries of Five Star Cleaners Cold Days, Warm Heart coat project.
As the temperatures dropped to freezing in early November 2018, Five Star Cleaners kicked off their 33rdyear of Cold Days, Warm Hearts, tapping their customers generosity in donating their gently worn coats at their Five Star Cleaners location to help supply SAMM, CAM, and Pearl Street Church with coats for San Antonio’s homeless.
In extending their outreach to collect coats, Five Star Cleaners also partnered with Alamo Drafthouse San Antonio, creating Warm Hearts San Antonio, where patrons could donate a coat and receive a free popcorn with their movie.
“I was raised to think and act as a philanthropist, and I truly believe in giving back to our community,” said Thum. “People fall on hard times and need support. We host the coat collection because we know there’s so many in our community who don’t have coats. It’s not something you think about very often in warm South Texas—until the first cold front blows through.”
“And, what Pearl Street Church is doing is powerful. There’s something extremely compassionate about handing a warm coat to a man on the streets and seeing gratitude in his eyes,” Thum added.
Bags of Blessings began as a vision from Pearl Street Church Lead Pastor, Brent Caddell. The outreach moves to different locations throughout San Antonio. “For now, we go to where the need is greatest, and we are currently praying for the right location, so we can be consistent in building relationships.”
This year more than 500 coats were collected, cleaned and repaired then distributed to SAMM, CAM and Pearl Street Church, those agencies and organizations that support the homeless.
“We have been doing this for 33 years, so we have the process down to fine art,” said Thum. “My staff are extremely astute and balance their daily duties with the give-back project. They’re compassionate, and want to help, too.”Since 1985, Five Star Cleaners has collected, repaired, and cleaned over 125,500 coats for San Antonio’s homeless.