On Saturday May 13th, Terra Linda’s Leo’s Club and San Rafael’s Interact Club hosted the Street Store at San Rafael High School. The Street Store is an international movement to create pop-up, accessible, and free clothing to those in need. The website TheStreetStore.Org encourages other groups and organizations to host a street store in their community, which is how the Leo’s Club decided to participate in the movement. This was the third year in a row that TL and SR hosted their own Street Store.
The Leo’s Club faced many challenges to be able to host this year’s Street Store. Usually the group has a month for preparations, but this time there were only two weeks to get everything ready. They managed to pull it all together with the help of Ms. Leonhart, who contributed by spreading the word, organizing many of the things the Street Store needed, and getting donations from the students at TL.
The Street Store was held at San Rafael High School’s parking lot from 9am to 3pm. Some of the Leo’s Club volunteers were there as early as 7am in order to get everything set up before guests came. In the beginning not a lot of people showed up and the Leo’s Club really struggled to get more people to come, mainly because of the store’s location.
As the day went on, more and more shoppers arrived and some of the volunteers had the opportunity to hear their stories. Leo’s Club president Josh Adan noticed a woman who appeared to be in her late sixties limping slightly as she walked through the store. Although she didn’t want to give her name and requested that no pictures be taken of her, she was willing to share a little about herself and how she ended up in her current situation. The woman said it all began when she was seventeen years old and moved from Egypt to New York. She left to escape her abusive family back in Egypt, hitchhiking from New York to California and sometimes working along the way. But she never really had enough money. Adan described the impact the woman’s story had on him: “Wow, here’s a woman who moved here when she was 17. That was me last year.”
Nancy Ariza and some friends also experienced a tear-jerking moment while at the soup kitchen in downtown San Rafael to advertise for the store. After explaining that the Street Store would offer free items for those in need, Ariza noticed one of the men on the floor starting to tear up. When asked, he shared that he was part of the Vietnam War and had experienced some trauma. Once he came home from the war he saw that his family just moved on from him; his significant other found someone else, family members died, and he just didn’t feel at home anymore. He felt he had no one, so he decided to move to California to start again. But on his journey, he was held at gunpoint and had his car stolen. He hitchhiked the rest of the way and ended up homeless. The man told her, “no one has ever done anything for me” and that was why he cried.
There are ups and downs to the Street Store every year, like trying to make time to plan the Street Store. But the goal of the Street Store is to give back to our community and to help provide clothes to those in need. The people who participated in the Street Store do it because of the happiness they feel knowing they helped impact people’s lives in a positive way. TL’s Leo’s Club and SR’s Interact Club enjoy working together to create the store every year in hopes that it will catch on in other communities as well.