By Jane Valencia
If you stop in at the Food Bank on most Wednesdays, you’ll come upon tables arrayed with clothing, sleeping bags, blankets, and other gear, available for free. Your host is Daniel Hooker, who is not only a humorist, offering jokes as he does here in The Loop pages, but, when asked, sharing healing and other helpful suggestions. During my time sitting with him and his dog, Falkor, I was fascinated by the ebb and flow of conversation and the many avenues it took. The exchange of items to clothe and shelter, friendly insights, intriguing knowledge, generosity and kindness, and just plain catching up with one another is rich currency indeed!
Daniel shared the story of the origins of this service.
He started out as a middle-class kid, raised in Lake Washington. When he was five, he moved with his mother to Germany, and enjoyed a lifestyle that included riding in limousines and planes. Two years later, they were living in Tahoe; Daniel had holes in his shoes, and was starving. The worst night of his life was when he and his mom suffered in -24 degree Fahrenheit weather in a panel van with thin walls, a down sleeping bag rated at -15 degrees, and a Coleman catalytic converter using white gas to keep warm. With a background of such experiences, Daniel became determined that no one should go hungry or endure cold, and decided to give back.
Ten years ago, Daniel began collecting donations of clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, heaters, camp stoves, and other related items, and distributing them mainly through churches. As he often had little to spare in the way of his own resources, he was told, “You give away too much!” Being half-native, Daniel has this to say in response: “I’m nature. We think differently.” And sure enough, as he reached out, he found that more often than not, he received assistance and resources as needed. One person who has helped significantly in this service is Lynn Simpson. She helps with storage of the donations, and sorts them to be sure they are usable.
These days, Daniel obtains many donations by way of Facebook groups such as “Vashon All” and “Buy Nothing Vashon.” Many times he’ll pick up the donations himself, using his own resources to do so. But easiest is to drop off your donations at the Food Bank.
He says, “It’s my way to give back, and make sure the children get new jackets, and something brand-new for the school year. Nice clothes come through here.”
As the cold and wet season begins, we can all be involved, either by donating clothing and gear, or, if you are in need of resources, by heading over to the Food Bank to see what is available.
Daniel notes that, six years ago one November when it suddenly snowed, four people let him know that without the sleeping bags they received they “wouldn’t have made it.” If ever you or I wanted to make a difference, donating sleeping bags, blankets, and other cold-weather gear to this service is especially helpful, and could save lives. Donations should be clean, and its helpful if clothes are folded.
Clothing Drive at the Vashon Food Bank *
When: Every Wednesday rom 10AM – 2PM (except the first Wednesday of the month)
Needed: clean clothing, shoes, rain gear, warm jackets for all ages; bedding/sleeping bags, tents, camping stoves, heaters (electric or emergency camping heaters also welcomed)
Contact: Daniel Hooker @ (707) 771-1999, 7 days a week, 9am – 5pm.
Thank you for your support and sharing your generosity in keeping Vashon-Maury Island a caring community and village.
* We are currently in the process of finding a central location for a drop box