At the age of six, most children look forward to getting new toys, playing with friends, and going to the neighborhood playground. But Sandro was different. By first grade, he was figuring out ways to serve his community.
One night, while watching the local news on television with his dad, Sandro learned many people in his community were homeless. Saddened by the fact that local families would have no place to sleep and keep warm during the approaching winter months, Sandro decided he would create a place where people without homes could go to get free coats and jackets. With help from his dad, Sandro built a coat rack complete with the simple message: “Are you cold? Take one.” This was the start of “Sandro’s Coat Rack”.
Sandro’s first coat drive was out of his home, where he collected all the coats his family no longer used.
Early the following morning, Sandro and his parents dropped off the coat rack at TASK filling, it with the items he collected the night before. Gradually, patrons crowded the rack choosing jackets for their families. By the time Sandro returned after school, the rack was empty.
“We put the coat rack at TASK because it seemed like the perfect place for people.” Sandro said. “My dad told me that people come here to eat when they leave the Rescue Mission”
If you’ve visited the soup kitchen recently, you may have seen “Sandro’s Coat Rack” outside near TASK’s main entrance. Depending on the time of day, you may have even seen patrons, both old and young, ruffling through the eclectic selection of jackets to find a perfect fit. He reloads the coat rack up to three times a week before school with his parents.
For families in the community that struggle to find appropriate winterwear, Sandro’s Coat Rack addresses a simple, but critical need: warmth.
“When people get too cold, they can die.” says Sandro (9) “I put coats outside of TASK because I don’t want anyone to die.”
To teachers, classmates and family members, Sandro’s compassion is inspiration to give back. It’s been three years since he first left the coat rack outside of the soup kitchen, and supporters from across the Trenton area continue to organize their own coat drives to help provide winter jackets people who are less fortunate. To date, Sandro’s Coat Rack has collected and distributed hundreds of jackets to individuals across the Trenton area.
“At this point, we’ve received so many coats we’ve stopped counting” said Sandro’s mom, Lisa Cunningham.
Even little hands can make a big difference–Sandro’s generosity is an example of how youth can make a great difference in their community. In the future, Sandro hopes to be able to make an even bigger impact as an architect building homes. But for now, he is content to continue providing hope and warmth for families who need it, one coat at a time.