Homework to aid the homeless

Two San Luis Obispo college students from Sonoma who have been best friends since the fifth grade are hoping to help the county’s homeless in time for winter.

Erika Anderson, a senior at Cal Poly, and Eva Sanders, an arts administration major at Cuesta College, came up with the idea for a winter clothing drive to benefit the Prado Day Center.

“There are people that are homeless at this time in our economy that weren’t last year,” Anderson said. “Everyone has felt pretty strained.”

They named their drive Warm a Cold Shoulder because, according to Anderson, “we can’t turn a cold shoulder to homelessness.”

They’re not backed by a larger organization.

For now, piles of jackets and pants are piled up in their small living room.

And they don’t know too much about planning big events. Instead, they’re hoping to get the word out with the help of the Internet.

Both have volunteered at the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum, so they’ve been able to see how events are organized.

Sanders was able to use some of her public relations skills from a recent stint at a local marketing firm.

The pair is also using online social media to let the community know about their efforts.

They’re steadily gaining support on Twitter — a social networking service where users can share brief messages.

Anderson and Sanders are using the service to advertise about their upcoming clothing drives and inform locals about donations and volunteer opportunities.

They’re also planning to go door-to-door passing out donation bags and information about pick up times, Sanders said.

Anderson, 20, came up with the idea after she noticed what appeared to be an increase in homeless people on the streets of downtown San Luis Obispo.

The pair said they wanted to give back to the community before they left; Sanders, 21, hopes to pursue a career in art, while Anderson plans to transfer to the University of San Francisco in spring.

They’ve been spending the last couple of weeks before their first clothing drive gathering donations from businesses and soliciting volunteers and support.

So far they’ve received donations of paper bags from Vons and Food 4 Less markets. They expect to receive another windfall of bags from Trader Joe’s and Albertsons.

The pair said their biggest challenge has been balancing school with organizing the drive and marketing their efforts.

“We both love learning how to juggle everything we love to do — we love partying, getting good grades and succeeding school,” Anderson said. “This is just a little new challenge for us.”

Clothing Drive

Warm a Cold Shoulder will kick off its first clothing drive from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 21 at the Meadow Park Recreation Center, South and Meadow streets, in San Luis Obispo.