On December 2, social worker Ken Williams and members of Interfaith Initiative of Santa Barbara County collected winter gear to distribute to the homeless to suit up for the cold winter ahead.
The cold-weather gear — which included higher-quality jackets, raincoats, pants, and socks — was mostly given by a private donor.
The recent death of 56-year-old Robert Lester Bunch — the 31st homeless death in Santa Barbara due to the near-freezing temperatures — has raised awareness efforts to offer aid to the homeless community. According to Williams, the private donor empathized with the homeless in light of recent deaths. Williams said he hopes other people will follow suit.
The gear was evenly distributed among six groups to target different communities. In addition to Williams, Father Jon-Stephen from Isla Vista, Lynn Jahnke, and local minister Jeff Shaffer, also participated in collection and distribution efforts. Williams said that he hopes distribution efforts will also take place in January and February.
“Unfortunately, you don’t have an unlimited supply,” said Williams. “You have to really judge who needs it more and is more vulnerable. You have to make the hard calls, but we have to do something to cut down on these deaths,” he added.