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Salt Lake City homeless residents treated to 'boutique'

Published November 17, 2013 10:01 am

The Legacy Initiative brings food, clothing and smiles to needy.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

On a wet and dreary afternoon, 100 volunteers from The Legacy Initiative brought some goodness to the lives of the homeless in downtown Salt Lake City.

The nonprofit group set up a "boutique" with free clothes Saturday on the northwest corner of Pioneer Park, supplementing those desired offerings with homemade been-and-cheese burritos and bottled water.

While part of the nonprofit's team distributed food and clothing there, three other teams of volunteers headed to the blocks around the homeless shelter and Library Square, giving burritos and bottles to anyone in need they met along the way.

"We don't make people line up to get what we have," said Travis Hysell, president of the nonprofit set up last year to "serve others, offer friendship to those who need it most and to inspire others to do the same. We want to give hope to those whose situation seems bleak."

Saturday, they did just that.

"This is great. I don't know who's doing it, but I think it's awesome they'd take time off their lives to do this," said Jolee Pagano, an Ogden woman in her mid-50s who has lived lately at the homeless shelter. Her arms were filled with warm clothes she collected to get ready for winter — cotton pajama bottoms, a sweater, a coat, boots and a backpack.

"It's beautiful to be blessed by this organization," agreed Maria Escamilla, 33, originally from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota but living in and out of the shelter here for more than a decade.

"This is something God would want people to do because it helps out other people," she added, rejoicing upon finding dog food for her friends' two dogs — "They love me and I love them," she said of the dogs. — along with perfume samples.

Tony Rivera, 41, isn't used yet to cold weather after moving to Utah recently from Los Angeles, so he was pleased to find a hoodie and other warm shirts on the racks.

"It's very much appreciated," he said. "I had to get out of California to find myself. I feel at peace in Salt Lake City."

Originally from Sandy but now homeless, 26-year-old Remington Hall expanded his wardrobe significantly with a "clean towel" as we as a blanket, gloves, a scarf, shoes and a jacket.

"It will keep me warm. It's a change of clothes," he said. "I've been wearing these clothes for a few days and it's been raining, so they're wet. Now I can change into a nice, dry pair."

Some stitching in Hall's coat also had come apart, so he took it to Gino Rich, who runs a separate nonprofit called Sew Much Hope.

Rich bound it up tight with a 1926 Singer sewing machine, then handed it back to Hall. "See how that works," he said.

Hall gave him a thumbs-up sign Rich quickly after putting it on. "Good job, man, you fixed it," Hall said. "God bless you."

Responses like that make volunteering worthwhile, said Steph Lords, a single mother of five from Sandy who was pitching in to help — along with all of her kids.

"They're really into it," she said of her family while passing out some of the 700 burritos she helped prepare. "It makes them more grateful for what they have."

mikeg@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribmikeg