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Bushes Donate Coats To Homeless

President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush ventured into Northeast Washington today to drop off more than 100 coats collected by the White House staff for Pathways to Housing, a District program to find homes for the chronically homeless.

Inbound traffic along New York Avenue was blocked for nearly a half hour as the Bush motorcade traveled to the 100 block of Q Street NE. They hey met with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), the Pathways staff and officials from One Warm Coat, an organization that has distributed more than 750,000 coats since 1992.

"Laura and I are here with the mayor and other volunteers who are just trying to make a difference in one person's life,'' said Bush, according to a pool report. "Today we're honoring a project called One Warm Coat, a nationwide effort to convince fellow citizens to contribute a used but not overly used coat, and help a soul who may need to be warm this winter.''

Fenty considered Bush's visit as an endorsement of his efforts: "In the Presidents remarks he really praised this new way of dealing with homelessness and that is, cut out the middle man of shelter and get people into housing immediately with supportive services."

One Warm Coat sponsored more than 2,000 coat drives across the country last year; the White House drive was conducted ast week. Bush met Judah Ben-Israel, 52, who was homeless until the city placed him in an apartment two years ago.

"I told the President that even though I have been through a lot, I am not unique," said Ben-Israel, a former Army Field Artillery Specialist. After being discharged from the military in the 1970's, he said, he struggled with alcohol and ended up homeless. Today Ben-Israel has been classified as disabled and has healthcare.

Hamil R. Harris

By Nikita R Stewart  |  December 22, 2008; 2:44 PM ET
Categories:  The Homeless  
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