Lending A Hand - One Glove At A Time

Before CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman began his CBS Evening News story, he said he'd like to apologize to Toni Duke's 4-year-old son, Miles.

Waking up is hard enough without a giant camera in your face.

But CBS News thought it was important to be there from the get-go - to see this single mom struggle to get her baby off to preschool…

To see her drive an hour and a half from where she can afford to live in Stockton, Calif., to where she can afford to work in San Francisco…

To see her putting in a full day as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, shouldering the problems of a big, crazy city…

Basically, to see how Toni Dukes just doesn't have the time or the money to save the world - but does it anyway.

In San Francisco's tenderloin district, they call her the glove lady.

She started handing out the gloves after driving thorough the neighborhood on her way to work.

"I would see people rubbing their hands and I felt bad," she said.

As one homeless woman put it: "and when your hands get cold, the rest of you gets cold."

Hartman asked one homeless man: "Did you ever have a pair of gloves?"

"Yea," he said.

"What happened to them?" Hartman asked.

"Somebody stole them."

Over the past couple years Duke has given out hundreds of pairs of gloves and hats to these random strangers, who often find her too good to be true.

"Right. They're like, 'What organization are you from?'" Duke said. "'I'm not from any organization it's just me.' 'Oh, you're just doing this?' 'Yea, from the heart.' And that's what I write on my bags - 'from the heart.'"

From the heart - and from money she doesn't necessarily have.

Although Toni always buys on sale, she admits her debts are mounting.

"To be out of debt, that's not reality right now. The reality is there are people standing on the corner cold," she said.

For that devotion, the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation recently honored her as one of the city's greatest heroes.

Of course, now that it's getting warmer Toni won't have to go out anymore. But of course, she will anyway.

"Even when I don't have any gloves to give out, I will still go out there and say, 'Hi, how ya' doing?' You know."

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.