Helping others
Coastsiders Martin Powers and Zak Batstone pass out sweatshirts in the Tenderloin of San Francisco recently. Photo courtesy Zak Batstone

On a street corner in the Tenderloin, a staffer from San Francisco-based nonprofit St. Anthony Foundation wheeled a woman toward two Coastsiders who were waiting with a stack of hoodies.

They gave the woman a cashmere sweater, which she said she would wear to her family’s Christmas dinner.

“She was in awe about it,” Zak Batstone said.

Batstone and Martin Powers reached out to family and friends this year, asking people to donate hoodies they could pass out to people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco this holiday season. They collected about 200 sweatshirts from 40 families and individuals on the Coastside.

“People were thankful we were doing this,” Batstone said. “But we were saying ‘thank you’ for allowing this to happen.

“We spent $0 and were able to give all these people in the Tenderloin something cool ... and something that can last all season,” he said.

Growing up, Batstone spent a lot of time taking buses in San Francisco, and Powers now works in San Francisco. They were familiar with seeing people on the street during cold winters. These experiences gave them the inspiration for “Hoodies for Homeless.”

“In Half Moon Bay, we’re kind of protected in the sense we don’t see a lot of homeless people,” Batstone said. “It was cool to ... have that conversation with people about how prevalent it is in San Francisco.”

They gave away all the sweatshirts in about half an hour. People would help others find the right size, bring their friends to pick out one or pick one out as a Christmas present for somebody else.

“They’re in need of getting warm,” Powers said. “... Everyone was just grateful for what we were doing.”

After seeing the positive response to the hoodie distribution, Batstone said they hope to replicate it on a larger scale next year.

“It was pretty cool to see how willing people were to help out,” he said. “And the cool thing for us was ... handing out so much joy.”

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