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Off the Street

Off the StreetHomeless Gear will take all that swag that’s clogging up your garage and give it to people who really need it

We’re guessing you’ve upgraded your tent, sleeping bag, hiking boots and ski shell in the last ten years. Twice. We’d also bet that you’ve still got all the old stuff stashed in the spare bedroom closet or crammed into the garage. The all-weather tent that Jenny got you as an engagement present (which you both got a hell of a lot more use out of than the diamond you got her), the coat you were wearing the first time you got the balls to drop Corbet’s and probably even the sunglasses you wore in your first road bike race, which are back in style now, by the way.

How about giving all those treasured items a meaningful second shot at life?

Homeless Gear is a Fort Collins based non-profit program with a simple mission: collect unused outdoor gear from the backpacking, hiking, camping and climbing community, and distribute it to the homeless of Colorado.  The homeless will use that gear to make their days more bearable and nights survivable.

Now in its second year, Homeless Gear has already doubled the number of reincarnated tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, backpacks, day packs, blankets, coats, hats, gloves, socks and shoes distributed.  “It’s just exploded,” says founder Ken John. “The idea of doing something significant with old gear really resonates with Colorado’s outdoor community.”

And it’s spreading. In addition to drop-off locations in Aspen, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Greeley, Glenwood Springs, Longmont and Loveland, Homeless Gear recently started making connections between donors and homelessness relief organizations outside the state.

“I hope this will become a national network,” John says. “We’ve really hit on a gap in the fight to get homeless folks off the streets. Most programs provide things like shelter, meals and rehabilitation. The sad reality is that there are not enough of these places, and many people are forced to sleep on the street. We’re not doing anything that will make them comfortable enough to stay there, but we are ensuring they survive.”

Check out, and then clean out your closet. And your garage. John promises he’ll have all of your old gear put to task in days, if not hours.

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