Episcopal Community Services hosts San Francisco’s first “Street Store”

On Friday, October 28, ECS held its first pop-up Street Store, giving homeless individuals the opportunity to "shop" for donated clothing with dignity and respect. The idea was proposed to ECS by volunteer Deepika Phakke, who saw the possibilities in the international Street Store concept for San Francisco. "Right now, our homeless neighbors don't have choice about where they live, where they eat," Phakke said. "Street Store is about giving them respect and the power of choice. Saying to them, 'Hey, you're invited to the store and free to pick up whatever you want.' That's empowering."

The Street Store was stocked with donated clothing and staffed by an enthusiastic team from Salesforce and other volunteers who worked directly with shoppers. ECS staff and volunteers had labored for days beforehand to sort the mountain of donations."The response to our call for donations was overwhelming -- in a good way! Our community is passionate about helping people experiencing homelessness, and it was amazing to witness how much people wanted to help," said ECS staffer, Alyssa Schrag. Volunteers also distributed flyers and did street outreach to make sure everyone who would be interested had an opportunity to attend.

Shopper turnout showed how greatly the homeless community needed an event like this. The line stretched around the corner of The Sanctuary an hour before the Street Store opened! In all, the Street Store served 328 individuals who were able to select up to 10 items each: pants, sweaters, coats, rain boots, and umbrellas, just in time for the winter ahead.