U Street hosts holiday coat, food drive for the homeless

|
Local,DC,Ben Giles

The blustery weather was enough to scatter most in attendance at a coat and food drive for the homeless Saturday afternoon, but it wasn't enough to stop Garry Clark Sr.

The weather simply served as a reminder to the founder of Pep Rally for Peace in the Streets why the drive was necessary in the first place.

"If we can give one day in the cold weather, the rainy weather or whatever to show our support for individuals who don't have a choice to be out there many days, I think that's very important," Clark said.

The 3rd Annual Hat Coat Boot Blanket Food Drive, hosted for the first year at the African American Civil War Memorial at Vermont Avenue and U Street NW, collected cardboard boxes full of clothing and canned goods for the city's homeless while spreading some Christmas cheer to passersby -- Christmas songs belted from a soundstage set up outside the U Street Metro station urging people to get in the giving mood, and a variety of singers and performers were inside the memorial's museum, including Charles Lowery, a folk and blues singer and songwriter who performed on stage with a rubber chicken.

Pep Rally for Peace, a seven-year-old nonprofit operating in the District and Maryland, hosts the event as a reminder during the holiday season that there are those in the city who can use a hand, Clark said, and residents are asked to donate warm clothes and food just a day after Black Friday, the biggest day for holiday shopping all year.

"This time of year a lot of us get caught up into the mainstream of all the holiday shopping, Black Friday, Thanksgiving meals and Christmas gifts and things of that sort, while the homeless don't have an opportunity to do that," Clark said.

Absent from a long lineup of performers and singers for the first time was D.C. music legend Chuck Brown, the "Godfather" of go-go. Brown had performed at the previous two holiday coat drives and was an active advocate for the District's homeless, according to Clark.

The drive this year was dedicated in honor of Brown, and will continue to bear his name for years to come, Clark said.

Brown "has always been in support of our homeless events and community outreach events," Clark said.

bgiles@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment