DOWNEY – On the first Saturday of 2016, volunteers from Downey and neighboring cities converged on Gladys Park, a park near Skid Row that many homeless veterans call home, delivering warm clothing ahead of the winter storms.
Dozens of volunteers handed out hundreds of blankets and winter clothing, specifically outerwear, hats, gloves and socks to help the homeless combat cold. Volunteers came from different service clubs, organizations and churches of different nominations.
"It was amazing to see so much diversity and the coming together of various groups as one team," said Mike Medina of Fit Life Long Beach.
Alex Gaytan and Paula Mejia, along with local students, collected donations of coats, blankets and socks all December, using donated office space at 2nd Street and Downey Avenue as their home base. Donations came from as far away as Hawaii and Chicago.
"There was even a young man from Pakistan who was visiting his brother in town," said Gaytan. "He told us this is the memory of America that he would take back to his country."
"We all felt a deep gratitude and a sense of satisfaction knowing that we kept many people warm when the storms hit Los Angeles," added Mejia.
Gaytan and Mejia thanked the volunteers, donors and major contributors who helped make the giveaway possible, most notably Rick Rodriguez and Nour Arencibia.
A second clothing drive is already in the works. For more information, call Alex Gaytan at (562) 396-6042 or Paula Mejia at (562) 884-9657.