FishHawk Sisters Collect T-shirts for Homeless

The collection drive continues through May 15 at Hit the Trails.

Most people have dozens hanging in their closet and in their dresser drawers.

But for the homeless who Charlie McGowan ministers to, a T-shirt represents more than a piece of clothing.

"They're a sign of love and comfort," said McGowan, founder of Kay's Ministry for the homeless at in Valrico. "It  means someone cared enough about them to give them something they need."

Hearing stories about the needs of the homeless, FishHawk Ranch sisters Emilie and Katie Dunn decided to launch a T-shirt collection drive April 15.

Their father, Steve Dunn, owner of has been routinely collecting used tennis shoes to give to McGowan to distribute to the homeless for more than two years.

"I was telling the girls how much the tennis shoes meant to the homeless," said Steve Dunn. "Charlie was picking up the tennis shoes one day and told me he'd given a pair of Air Jordans to one of the homeless, and the guy teared up when he got them because they meant so much to him."

The sisters said they wanted to help the homeless as well and came up with the idea of collecting T-shirts.

Emilie, a Randall Middle School student, put her artistic abilities to the task, designing a flier for the collection drive. Her sister, a student at , then distributed the fliers to homes around their neighborhood. Their father also publicized the effort at his FishHawk Boulevard store and among the runners in his 150-member running group.

The response was more than the girls envisioned. So far, residents have donated well over 100 T-shirts.

"People were coming in with bags of T-shirts," said Steve Dunn. "Some had never even been worn or worn just once for a race. We decided to extend the collection drive until May 15.

"It's great to see kids geting involved," said McGowan. "They really deserve a pat on the back."

He explained that T-shirts are in demand among the homeless because they have no access to a washer and drier.

"They have no means to wash clothes. So they wear a T-shirt until it's too dirty to wear anymore. And they throw it away when someone gives them a new T-shirt," he said.

"It makes you feel good, knowing you're helping someone," said Emilie Dunn.

"Kids are so accustomed to wanting things for themselves. When they can get involved in giving, they realize how good it feels to help someone else," said McGowan. "I give Katie and Emilie kudos for doing this. Kids have to get involved."

"We have so much," said their mother, Mary. "It's nice for them to help others who don't have anything.

Steve Dunn also collects used tennis shoes in good condition for the homeless throughout the year. Both shoes and T-shirts can be dropped off at his store at 13433 FishHawk Blvd., Lithia. For more information, call 813-681-6141.

For more information on Kay's Ministry, see the on Bloomingdale-Riverview Patch.







Steve Prefontaine May 01, 2012 at 11:23 PM
The girls did SUCH a great thing! I wish my kids did the same thing! We are so sending T-Shirts! You Go Girls!!!!!!!!


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