Synergy Lends a Hand


On a night when being homeless in San Francisco seemed particularly harsh – sharp winds, sheets of icy rain – Synergy kids, parents, and teachers gathered to lend a hand.

The purpose of the Brown Bag Community event, organized by Synergy’s Parent Involvement Committee, was to create hygiene bags for homeless and low-income people who come to St Anthony’s Foundation every day for meals, clothing, health care, and other services.

Seventy-five kids and adults decorated gift bags with stickers and drawings, then filled them with items donated by Synergy families, including soap, toothbrushes, deodorant, and shampoo.

Synergy parent Lydia Bransten, who works at St. Anthony’s, encouraged kids to write notes to include in the bags. “We give hygiene bags to people on their birthdays,” she said. “For many people it’s the only present they get on their birthday, so be sure to include some love.”

Special guest Del Seymour, a San Francisco homeless commissioner, told the group that San Francisco’s homeless population numbers more than 6,500 people. “This is St Francis’s city,” he said. “He loves what you are doing here tonight.”

“It’s not just about what’s in the bags themselves,” Seymour, who was homeless himself for 18 years, told the Synergy Times. “It’s the feeling these kids are putting into them. When you are homeless, you feel invisible, like no one cares about you.”

Synergy’s Big Room was festive as kids and adults worked together, then ate Mexican food prepared by the Blue Iguana taco truck. Still, the rain and blasting wind were a reminder that many San Franciscans aren’t as fortunate. “I feel bad for people who have to be outside tonight,” said fifth-grader Elizabeth Holcombe. “I wish they had a better place to stay.”

When the evening was over, 160 carefully decorated bags were ready for distribution to guests at St. Anthony’s. Bohdanna Kesala, who chairs the Parent Involvement Committee plans to make the get-together an annual event. “Next year our goal will be 300 bags!” she said.

–by Connie Matthiessen

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