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Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Sweater Drive Brings Thousands of Items to Clara White Mission

2:02 PM, Dec 7, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was a busy morning at the Clara White Mission as people unloaded dozens of boxes full of warmth for those who need it.

"We're continuing tradition of being good neighbors as Mr. Rogers always encouraged us to do," said WJCT President/CEO Michael Boylan.

It's called the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Sweater Drive.  He's the man with the smiling face who donned the trademark cardigan for years on public television. The drive honors the life and work of the late Fred Rogers.

"We really appreciate this sweater drive," said Cindy Hampel.

The drive benefits people like Cindy Hampel, who's been homeless off and on for about a year now.  She said it's a tough position to be in or understand.

"You have to experience it.  Especially for women, it's a lot harder," said Hampel.

"Sometimes we take those small things for granted," said Ju'Coby Pittman-Peele, Clara White Mission President/CEO.

With teamwork from WJCT, Duval County Schools, Vystar, Two men and a Truck, and Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, about 20,000 items were collected including sweaters, coats and blankets.

They were then sorted out for hundreds of men and women to pick from at the Clara White Mission.

"We need to support each other and make sure the need is met," said Pittman-Peele.

There's a big need.  The Clara White Mission feeds 400 to 500 people a day.  Hampel said a warm sweater with that meal makes a difference.
    
"Especially around the holidays when you don't have your family," said Hampel.

It'll make the upcoming cold nights at least a little more bearable. 

Fifteen area schools collected about 7,800 items for the drive.  The donated items will also go to people in need at the City Rescue Mission and Family Promise.

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