by Lance Armstrong
Jan Wilson, a local homeless advocate who is known by many people as “the extra layer of clothing lady,” has recently received the support of several East Sacramento businesses.
Last week, Wilson, who is a fifth generation Sacramentan, approached these businesses with her hope that they would assist her in a new project.
Wilson, who has dedicated herself to collecting and distributing cast-off clothing and blankets for the homeless for nearly 12 years, has launched a drive to collect different sizes of unwanted, viable men’s, women’s and children’s shoes and all sizes of gently used socks.
The East Sacramento businesses, which have agreed to assist with this new project include: Allstate Insurance at 4765 J St., Socal’s Tavern at 5200 Folsom Blvd., Club Raven at 3246 J St., Guitar Workshop at 3248 J St. and Kerrie Kellie Design Lab at 3252 J St.
Also assisting with this project is St. Philomene Catholic Church at 2428 Bell St., the XO Lounge at 1400 Broadway, Brownie’s Lounge at 5858 South Land Park Drive and the Pocket Club at 5043 Freeport Blvd.
With the exception of Guitar Workshop and Kerrie Kellie Design Lab, which are promoting Wilson’s project, all of these aforementioned businesses, as well as St. Philomene Catholic Church, are serving as shoe collection drop-off points.
The shoe collection project will assist the homeless through the homeless survival private charity Loaves & Fishes at 1321 North C St., Union Gospel Mission at 400 Bannon St. and St. John’s Shelter for women and children at 4410 Power Inn Road.
Collections for this project will be received through Dec. 31.
In a meeting with the East Sacramento News last week, Wilson explained how she became involved in assisting Sacramento’s homeless.
“After being approached by so many panhandlers and not having enough money to help them all, I decided to use my God-given talents as a promoter and organizer to glean donations from the public,” Wilson said. “I know a lot of homeless people, some of them I went to school with. We all need to assist one another in this world. I am very blessed in life and I want to give back and this is the way that I can.”
Although Wilson receives no monetary compensations for assisting the homeless, she said that she is rewarded for her efforts in other ways.
“The rewards for me doing this are two-fold,” Wilson said. “First is the knowledge that someone has some relief from the cold and now they know that people out there care. And the other is the raising of the social conscious among the people that have supported my efforts throughout the years. I love it when they tell me that they literally gave the coat off of their back to someone in need or when a bartender lets me know that the ‘person in need’ came by to pick up a pair of tennies and the bartender says it gave them the ‘warm fuzzies.’ Bartenders never say ‘warm fuzzies.’”
Bill Farrell, owner of Socal’s Tavern, said that he decided to become involved with Wilson’s project after he was approached by one of his friends.
“There’s a mutual friend (Deb McGee, daytime bartender of the XO Lounge) that we know that mentioned that Jan was willing to step up and try to do some good work and she wanted to know if we could use my location as a drop-off point,” Farrell said.
Farrell, who was quick to allow a shoe collection drop-off point to be located at his business, said, “There’s definitely a need (to collect shoes for the homeless). It’s great when people step up to do that work. (Wilson is) willing to step up and do the good work, and it’s always great to help out the people who are willing to do the yeamon’s work. It helps all of us.”
Farrell is no newcomer to helping others in need, as his business is already a drop-off point for used sporting goods for St. John’s Shelter.
Amanda Malmstrom, agency manager at Allstate Insurance, said that Allstate Insurance is also proud to be serving as a drop-off location for Wilson’s project.
“We’re lucky to be a part of (the project), because we, as well, are interested in helping people who are less fortunate than we are, and I think it’s a great thing to do,” Malmstrom said.
Dave Lynch, owner of the Guitar Workshop, said that he enjoys assisting projects to give people a “hand up” in life.
“Everyone at some point in their life is going to need a hand up and it could be any one of us,” Lynch said. “I would only hope that someone would offer that to me the way that I would offer it to them. If I could give someone a hand up, not a hand out, then we want to do that. In order for us to survive, we need to survive as a team, not as just individuals doing our thing. It’s really a group effort.”
Although Wilson has taken on her shoe collection project, she has no plan to relinquish her role as “the extra layer of clothing lady.”
“After nearly 12 years of assisting the homeless by providing them with extra layers of clothing and blankets, I have no choice, but to keep collecting these items due to the fact that people are always asking me if I’m still collecting clothes and I can’t say, ‘No.’” It’s the equivalent of a runaway train and I am the conductor,” Wilson said.
For additional information about Wilson’s shoe collection project, call (916) 30-GIVER (304-4837).