Woodside: Peace Builders help clothe local children


The atmosphere was congenial and energetic at the Woodside Village Church in the twilit semi-darkness of Guild Hall on Feb. 26. Seated circles of adults and children were busy ripping open small packages containing new children's clothing and footwear. A joyful noise permeated the room. They were ripping for a good cause.

Woodside resident Diane Eskenazi, the director and founder of the nonprofit Peace Builders Inc., brought the volunteers to the church to unwrap some 31,000 items with a value of about $1 million for donation to homeless, foster and low-income children in the Bay Area.

The goods were contributed by a kid's clothing retailer who did not want to be identified.

Cellophane and price tags littered the floor, creating shallow seas of papery things as the unwrapped items -- jerseys, sandals, leggings -- were tossed back into the cardboard boxes from whence they had come. Among the intended recipients were 2,000 homeless and foster kids identified by the Ravenswood City School District as living in the district, Ms. Eskenazi said.

Volunteers were from Ravenswood's foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula, and other organizations.

Removing price tags discourages attempts to exchange the items with the outfit that donated them, Ms. Eskenazi said.

Preparing clothing in this way is a routine for Peace Builders, she said. Often, the destination is overseas, to war zones in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, for example, or to a Tibetan community living in tents outside Dharamsala, India, a destination for refugee children walking in from Tibet.

Over the years, Peace Builders has shipped aid valued at more than $100 million to children in need around the world; the organization donated more than 50,000 toys throughout the Bay Area over this most recent Christmas holiday, Ms. Eskenazi said.

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