Program Aims to Give Warmth During Winter

Thanks to the generosity of the community in San Benito County,
more than 350 kids will have warm winter coats and clothes this
year, but the nonprofit organization that coordinates the shopping
adventure is still looking for volunteers.
Thanks to the generosity of the community in San Benito County, more than 350 kids will have warm winter coats and clothes this year, but the nonprofit organization that coordinates the shopping adventure is still looking for volunteers.

The Small Steps program is completely funded by community contributions. Each child is given $75 to buy winter clothes, and each purchase must include a jacket and shoes. Children who are in need are usually identified by teachers in the county.

Small Steps, which was founded after the Hollister Jaycees Organization disbanded, has been supplying financially disadvantaged children with warm jackets, shoes and more for the past eight winters. Before Small Steps was formed, many of the volunteers worked with the Jaycees on a similar project called Coats for Kids.

Sally Silva, who helps coordinate the program, said in the program’s first year there were only 25 kids, but now that there are 14 times that, the group needs more than 400 volunteers to make the day a success.

“We worry every year that we won’t be able to handle any more kids, but then a teacher will call and say, ‘We have this family who really, really needs the help,’ and we just can’t turn them down,” Silva said.

The shopping excursion will take place Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Target parking lot, which is located at 1790 Airline Highway in Hollister. Target and Payless Shoes, which is adjacent to Target, will open their doors at 7am and give shoppers a 10-percent discount.

Silva said the experience of helping out these children brings her to tears every year.

“It’s just so gratifying,” she said. “I don’t think we realize how good our lives are until we see some of these children who have never had new underwear and socks.”

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