About 7,000 Skid Row-area children were outfitted with new clothes and shoes last week through the Fred Jordan Mission's annual Back to School Days distribution.
Foot Locker shoe stores donated 7,000 pairs of tennis shoes, and about 100 clothing manufacturers, including Bugle Boy, Cherokee and Stussy, provided more than 7,000 outfits that were distributed free to needy families on Monday and Tuesday.
So popular is the giveaway, now in its fifth year, that families began lining up in front of the mission at 445 Towne Ave. as early as 9 p.m. the night before, said Willie Jordan, wife of the late mission founder.
Willie Jordan conceived the idea of a clothes distribution as a way to build self-esteem among Skid Row-area children who often wear old and used clothing to school. "It's bad enough to be poor, but to look poor is the pits," Jordan said. "We try to make them feel as much a part of a family and mainstream society as possible."
So generous were the manufacturers that the mission has about 1,500 leftover outfits that Jordan said she will distribute through local schools. She estimated that each manufacturer donated $25,000 worth of goods.